How interesting. Two days ago I was writing something about how landscapes are always framed by human presence, and then I just accidentally chanced upon these two photos I've taken of Murchison Falls, Uganda.
The top one is from January 2005, and the bottom one from April 2006. You might not believe it, but January is part of the dry season, while April is, on average, one of the rainiest.
Uganda is dependent on water power, and currently plagued by a power crisis. By a subjective estimate, in January 2005 we had about ten hours per week without electricity in Kampala, the capital. In April 2006, it must have been close to 50 hours. The water power plants in Jinja, at the source of the Nile, largely generate the country's power. They use the water flowing from lake Victoria to the river. Murchison Falls are located several hundred kilometres down the river. Neighboring countries have blamed Uganda for the low water levels in the lake, saying that the dams in Jinja have let through too much water to sustain healthy levels. This year, the lake hasn't had any extra water to spare. Less power for the people, less water for the falls.
Uganda's power sector was recently privatised and supply is now controlled by a company called Umeme
. According to one source
, the government will pocket over $360 million from the deal over the next twenty years. Electricity generation has since fallen by at least a third, prices have hiked accordingly, most offices where customers could pay their bills (in person - this the only way) have been closed, and newspapers have been filled with letters to the editor cursing the new distributor. The top picture is pre-Umeme, the bottom one is post-privatisation. What do they say about pictures and... how many thousands of words?
Well, here are the falls from below, just for fun. This 7-metre-wide gorge and 45-metre drop creates what is often called the most powerful natural flow of water on earth. I don't know how that could be counted. Maybe someone forgot the Gulf Stream. But standing on the brink, it's very easy to believe that this is the most violent. I bet they'd like to harness this one. See the concrete blocks in the pictures? There used to be a bridge, but it was simply washed away.