January 2010
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Day January 15, 2010

Parallels of disaster unpreparedness between Haiti and Uganda

In the wake of the most devastating calamity visited upon the people of Haiti by nature,  we are in its third day and we continue to look on the afflicted and the fallen concrete with shocked impotence, followed by tears of great sorrow and sadness from seeing those deemed treatable perish due to complete lack of leadership and preparedness. Like the Titanic tragedy, lack of adequate preparedness is implicitly emblazoned in this particular narrative of human tragedy.

Shocked at how folks in leadership can turn a blind eye utterly failing to implement the necessary to minimize death from such disasters.What else could have led to such a state of unpreparedness if not corruption of the highest order, there are certain things in life that require prior preparedness in order to allow a level of effective responsiveness sadly enough the people of Haiti were given a false sense of comfort and security that their leaders were in control and diligent enough to have a prepared response at the strike of such disasters .

The Haitian people are people used to poverty and scantiness of work,food,services and bad governance.The reporters at the scene were shocked to discover a people who raised no demands on their missing government to provide help even as they heard moaning and calls for help from those who were pinned down. They looked  orphaned and left out cold to fend for themselves without a plan at their most needful hour.
How could it be possible that they never raised these preparedness issues prior to the disaster some asked, perhaps they did, but like in many emerging nations it fell on the deaf ears of their leaders. The corruption by government officials in Haiti, is similar to what we have in many African nations.  The apathy and incompetence to respond in a prepared manner to the needs of the people is quite apparent and endemic now exposed fully by this disaster, unfortunately, at the a cost of many lives that cannot be returned.
The mounting death toll from this disaster alone, should not allow us to rest without demanding for a UN led agreement of all nations to force this disaster preparedness concept on many sleeping governments of emerging nations. We could call these MGDPs Minimum goals of disaster preparedness and give them the same global attention as the minimum goals of  development .

The solutions lays not only in creating four or five geographically separated locations,constructed and fully furnished for disaster preparedness, it would require the training of a population based adequate number of emergency response physicians and other disaster trained personnel that save lives, such as EMTs, firemen and policemen including local volunteer units, capable of such heuristics as diving into murky waters, caring for wounded victims or quickly and carefully removing concrete resulting from a disaster.

Several catapillars and tractors capable of lifting concrete walls are also essential items for such preparations;incidentally a new design with a controllable powerful vacuum heads capable of lifting bricks is a must get ; perhaps robots with powerful arms can also be employed to carry out this type of surgical work.  Enough diesel fuel, bottled water and food stored safely in multiple locations including generators and a well rehearsed polity and prepared troop to carry out emergency evacuations.

There were no fire trucks or firemen to speak of at the site in Haiti, the concept of preparing for hunger disease or any disaster like in many African nations is a foreign concept to even this black man in power who has lived in the western hemisphere for generations.

The no show government at the disaster site in Haiti would have have had the same stare and lack of action had this been a Tsunami, with deep oceanic waters rushing into Porte Au Prince rather than falling concrete and bricks from the shear forces of an earthquake. These people who have endured slavery and rebellions, the home of Toussiant the first black man to mount a successful rebellion against French slavery 1791 were left sadly vulnerable and completely unprepared for any out of the norm strain on their already stressed out service delivery infrastructure, which is kept by their leadership to run scantily with almost everything essential.

We are all praying and hoping that the deaths and causalities will be minimized in the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, we are all guilty for not raising enough flags to save the poor people of Haiti, who by the way helped many nations gain independence by sending troops even to their very rich neighbor America.  I’m encouraged by the overwhelming support that they have received so far, but I’m saying that people need our support while they are alive not when they are strewn body and soul on streets waiting for their final exit. Let us all do a self check on disaster preparedness if not for our sanity, but to avoid that blank stare of impotence when it finally knocks on our doors.
Tendo kaluma
Ugandan in Boston

Sheraton Hotel should go back to its original name

Dear readers,

Sheraton Hotel formerly Apolo Hotel did not belong to Milton Obote family.  The name APOLO is derived from Sir Apolo Kagwa who donated the land where Sheraton Hotel now stands.  It was not named after Apolo Milton Obote as most people  think.  The holding company is still to date called Apolo Hotel Corporation.

In fact way back in 1971 after Amin changed the name of the Hotel from Apolo to Kampala International, a group of Baganda led by a top Kampala -Harvard educated lawyer, the late Fred Mpanga former Attorney General of Buganda (father of David Mpanga Minister of Research in present Buganda governent) appealed to Iddi Amin to retain the name Apolo.

I personally would support those who would like the hotel to be renamed Apolo Sheraton.  This was the first Five Star Hotel in East Africa even before the Nairobi Hilton and Intercontinental were built, courtesy Sir Apolo Kagwa.

Paul Lam-Kilama

UAH forumist

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