Home economics

Posted: February 4, 2008 in Blog

During last week’s trip through the Teso region of Eastern Uganda that had terrible flooding last fall, I met a few people who illustrated the difficulty people there are having getting their lives back on track.

Here are the economics on rebuilding a typical mud-brick house following the floods:


Approx 60 bundles of grass at 150 shillings a bundle = 9,000 shillings, or about $6.


Between 800-1,000 burnt mud bricks, depending on the size of the home, at 100 shillings a brick = 80,000-100,000 shillings, or about $50-60.

Here are some of the people along the way who explained these economics first-hand, given that none of them have been able to get the money to build their homes again:

This is John Omongin, who had two mud brick houses prior to the floods. They both collapsed and now he and his family have nowhere to stay so they move around to other peoples’ huts, finding somewhere to sleep wherever there is room. Here he is standing in front of the collapsed grass roof of his former home:


Next, meet Nathan Alikileng. As I was finishing up one interview, he tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I could come see his home. We walked through the camp and stopped at a shallow crater, beside which sat a mount of grass and a broken wooden frame. This is what was left of his house, and this is him, sitting on the debris:


Lastly, here is Mary Idair. She is the leader of this IDP camp (many in the area live in camps because of Karamojong to the north who constantly lead cattle raids). She is a widow with two children and no home. She spoke to me at length about life in the camp and about the struggle to find the money to rebuild. Here she is sitting on the roof of her collapsed home:


  1. Glenna Godon says:

    Hey Chris – Nice pix and post! Did you finally put the new lens to use?? GG

  2. cmason2 says:

    Thanks, Glenna. I absolutely have been using the new lens. In fact these pics were taken with it. I’ve found that in most cases I can use it as my standard lens. If I’m too close for it I can just take a step back and balance it out. So far so good, thanks again for bringing it!

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