Muinga David is presently a PhD fellow at the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR), Makerere University. David’s research interests center about Political Economy, particularly on the dynamics of Global relations and Power and their influence in structuring social orders. Part of these interests are grounded in examining how land use and land relations from pre-colonial to post-colonial society have been reengineered, recreated and transformed and how colonial structures have formulated and further engineered the forms of expression of power as well as peasant agency and resistance to power. David is also interested in research on Africa-China relations.
Landslides and the Problematics of Disaster Response and Peasant Relocation by the State: Bududa District, Uganda
In Bududa, one of the districts in eastern Uganda, the slopes of Mountain Elgon, have long been a hot spot for landslides. Dating back to the 1800’s, more than 800 people have been estimated killed and countless thousands displaced with numbers highest in the recent years. The response of the Ugandan state to this disaster crisis, among others has primarily been relocation of disaster victims to public land in other districts. Whereas the state has employed and executed this solution, many disaster victims have since returned to resettle within the same disaster-prone areas. As landslides are gradually becoming an annual event, it is key to question the underlying factors as to why peasants continue to settle and resettle in these areas yet having knowledge of the endangerment that exists. More so, it is pertinent to query the execution of disaster response by the state and how this has created a series of problematics surrounding land in Bududa district and the surrounding areas of relocation. This paper debates that by the state relocating disaster victims, it has overlooked and aggravated an active land question from colonial antiquity. Through a quad faceted viewpoint, the paper posits that by relocation, a series of problematics are created in which peasants are not just relocated, but separated; Firstly, from their land – from which they gain subsistence; Secondly, from the utility of the land – which is not guaranteed in the areas of relocation; Thirdly, from their rights to land – which they do not hold in the public owned land: Lastly, temporary relocation in camps has separated peasants from their means of subsistence, engineering a culture of humanitarian and relief reliance. In doing so, the paper not only queries relocation as a solution to disasters in post-colonial states but also analyses the interplay between state power and peasant agency, and how societal structuring from colonial antiquity has engineered the form of peasant resistance to contemporary state power.
Affiliation: Makerere University