Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Anyone got a spare room for 50,000 people?

SORRY, folks, I’m back on investigative journalism.
This seven par story is on page 23 of today’s Daily Monitor. It’s pretty well written and has one of my favourite does-what-it-says-on-the tin headlines.
Like in much of rural Uganda 90 per cent of the population of Amuria work in farming, growing crops from sweet potato and cassava to oranges and rice plus looking after animals.
So along come the Zhonghua Exploration and Mineral Development Company and bingo we have ‘mineral exploration’ and 50,000 people looking for a new home.
For local readers that’s more than the number of people who live in Fort Portal and for those in the UK that’s the population of Morecambe or half of Crawley, Eastbourne or Oldham.
Quite where they are going to go no-one knows. A local official is quoted as saying “…nothing is mentioned on how homes within the area will be helped.”
Mining has been big business in Uganda more or less since the settlers arrived 150 years ago so I realise this isn’t a new story, but that doesn’t mean we can’t come at again with an inquiring gaze.
And what is the track record of these mineral developers? What will they leave behind? What does it mean for a district like Amuria to have 50,000 displaced people?
While I’m here in Uganda I am having a go at some proper academic research into the effectiveness – or otherwise – of a ‘Western’ model of journalism in the developing world. This looks to me like a story worth chasing, but already I can feel the newsroom shrugs of indifference…

And in other investigative journalism news….

A standalone picture on the same page has this caption: “Pokot girls having lunch with their luggage at Kalas Girls primary School in Amudat District last week. They refused to go home for holidays for fear of undergoing Female Genital Mutilation”.
‘Nuff said.