Lifestyle Influences Environment


Lifestyle is a way of life adopted by individuals after years of interaction with their immediate cultural environment, socioeconomic environment, socio-political, ethical as applied in all aspects of community life, and natural environments through parental or family influences. In recent years, however, globalization in all those facets has taken its share of influence on ways individuals live. It is the nature of their consequences to individuals that, in turn, dictates decision making and specific lifestyles. As a natural interaction phenomenon, the natural environment too gives its feedback proportionately to what individuals have given to it in form of natural disasters.

Otherwise, It was important that the different ways -through which lifestyle is formed are identified, point out the nature of lifestyles adopted and their influence on individuals, the lifestyle influences on environment health, and the consequences of the responses of the natural environment on individuals, and possible solutions.

The districts of Kampala, Iganga, Mayuge, Jinja, and Nairobi were put into perspective by way of observations, focused group discussions with community members mindful of gender, stories and cases, and review of data from other individuals and organizations that have worked or lived there -in line with the questions that related to the above objectives.

Interestingly for Nairobi, rather than the modernization most used to mean tall buildings, long bridges and skyscrapers, it was modernization of the natural environment -where residency of individuals did not affect their environment: they co-existed with the natural environment -including wild animals in nearby national game packs.

And because of the unfair resources distributions violence in the Nairobi city has been on-going since independence as the gap between nationals who owned resources (like arable land) widened -and the means to eventual access to development opportunities (like jobs and benefit from public services) became more of a dream than a reality.

In the Uganda districts of Jinja, Mayuge, Iganga and Kampala, it was only modernization, (or development) that mattered -and as only understood in terms of tarmac roads, high administrative and commercial building; and not all, in terms of development of the natural environment of which humanity was part. In Jinja and Kampala, despite such a perception of development, (or modernization), appropriate waste management technologies were not applied.

Garbage problem remained the talk of the town and city -respectively. In Mayuge district, a place once a habitat for hippopotamuses and with a thriving natural forest has much of them replaced of populations of immigrants from Teso and Kenya -in addition to the rapidly rising local population of people. Their settlement was secured aggressively after bloody confrontations with security in search for arable land and fish for commerce and food.

As a result of garbage-related pollution Kampala faced (and continues to do so) an annual threat of cholera and other waterborne diseases affecting mainly children. The Kampala suburbs of Bwaise, Kawempe, Zana, Ndeeba, Kalerwe, Kireka, Katwe, Ndeeba and Kanyanya most hit hardest as much of the settlements are located in the wetland zones.

On Entebbe Road, areas like Lufuka, Najjanankumbi, Namasuba and Zana were submerged. Within the city centre, Clock Tower and Kisenyi were most affected. The case of heavy rains hitting Kampala in February and May 2010 are the most recent -in which houses were flooded, along with broken sewerage systems that went on to contaminate food and other human environments, denying affected population access to main roads, and without electricity. Schools and shops were closed for most of the day in the affected areas.

That, though, was most significant during the El NiƱo rains of 2003-2003 -which carried human waste in the waters and foods to cause contamination in return. 200 suspect cholera cases were reported. Besides, noise pollution in the name of religion or faith and parties continued to build stressful conditions for people living in the suburbs despite the Noise Standards and Control Regulations (2003) which advises that there are licenses available for property owners -whose establishments were likely to emit noise in excess of the permissible levels.

In Mayuge and Iganga have had sleeping sickness epidemic -which was originally ecologically-controlled parasite, now only controlled through spraying and trapping of tsetse flies since 1901 through 1970s to date while violent clashes between forest officials and encroaches rage on. Malaria pandemic also posed highest threat as if replacing sleeping sickness. Government of Uganda, on one hand, showed no environmental consciousness -when it encouraged encroachment on reserves by calling for an end to evictions of encroachers by the national forestry authority.

In Nairobi, Kenya ownership of land as a natural resource was a source of conflict that was only triggered by the 2007 election rigging. In 2002, Mungiki were implicated in the massacre of 23 people in Kariobangi, Nairobi, and some 1,500 people were killed and another 300,000 displaced in a matter of weeks after the December 2007 presidential polls in which President Mwai Kibaki was accused of having stolen the vote. In Jinja, Uganda, sanitation-related problems were more evident in suburbs -as well than in town where the elite made “noise” to pressure politicians to have urban problems addressed while the less represented south continued to suffer the environmental choke.

In conclusion, rather than the selfish and egocentric yet destructive behaviours towards nature, and nature fighting back in terms of generating conditions for infectious diseases and “wild” rains, the people of Uganda districts of Kampala, Jinja, Mayuge, Iganga ought to borrow a leaf from their Nairobi counterparts by learning to and really co-exist with nature or the natural environment -as that would create certain climatic conditions (as low as 10 degrees Celsius as a case in Nairobi during the months of July and August) as defensive barrier against humid-shriving parasites and, by so doing, they will be able to solve water shortage through rainfall harvesting -made available by the enhanced water cycle -and helping to solve hygiene and sanitation problems associated to water shortage (or lack safe-to-drink water), to control the bleeding of parasites, to ensure a healthy national yet productive workforce -and to promote environment tourism while Nairobi needed to revisit the distribution of natural resources -whose ownership and benefits go to mainly major tribal group, the Kikuyu, who go on to dominate in all other aspects of Kenya’s economic life.

Fortunately, undesirable consequences have always pressured humanity to devise solutions. In doing so several researchers have already come up with interesting findings and recommendations for the better, though in Uganda politics has been the cause of all efforts towards positive change in favour of populism. In Kenya, the ratification of the new constitution on 27th August 2010 aimed at resolving local conflicts, secured a peaceful future for Kenya. Whether in aspects of governance, cultural, religiosity, economic decision making, media influences or man’s ignorance the natural environment must not be undermined to meet man’s selfish interests just because it has no known language to complain, or its language (natural disasters) not simply understood. However, in self defence it will always make its own points through acts of uncontrollable rainfall, generating conditions for parasites, and contamination of food to cause ill health, or even sudden deaths.

By Jacob_Waiswa

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