Category Archives: Democratic Republic of Congo

Mount Muhabura

I’ll post a longer blog about scaling Uganda’s second highest mountain over the next few days, mostly because it is an amazing experience with very little information about how to go about it.

But for now, and to show just what an amazing experience it was, here are a few pics from Mount Muhabura.

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A view of Mount Muhabura from about 10 miles away looking along the Virunga Mountain range

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Looking out towards Mount Sabyinyo

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A beautiful day in valley below with a little weather beginning to form over Muhabura

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Entering one of the five vegetation zones we went through on the way to the summit

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On the final ascent to the summit, ladders were the only way to get up the gradient

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Not many places in the world you can go for a swim at 16,000ft, or cross from one country to another. Here is Sam and I in the crater lake at the summit swimming back to Uganda from Rwanda

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At the summit. Behind us and below the clouds is Rwanda

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Mothers’ Index shows challenges facing Uganda

Save the Children’s “State of World Mothers” report, published today, is a stark reminder of the challenges faced by developing countries in addressing maternal and new born deaths.

Some facts to start. Save the Children’s Mother’s Index ranked 176 countries looking at indicators including maternal health, under-five mortality, and women’s education, income and political status.

The report found that Sub-Saharan Africa countries occupy takes bottom ten spots, with Democratic Republic of Congo propping up the rest. The report finds that

an estimated 397,000 babies die each year in sub-Saharan Africa on the day they are born. The region accounts for 12 percent of the world’s population but 38 percent of the world’s first-day deaths.

Newborn deaths have fallen everywhere in the world, except Sub-Saharan Africa. Between 1990 and 2011, due to a surge in population, newborn deaths have increased by 10%.

Elsewhere,India accounts for almost 30% of all new born deaths, 876,000 every year out of 3 million worldwide. In the developed world, the United States has the highest rate of new born deaths with 11,300 babies dying on the day they are born each year.

On the flip side, Finland, and Scandinavian countries in general, fair best with the lowest risk to mothers and their babies.

But it is the information in the report on Uganda which caught by eye due to my ongoing work with Volunteer Uganda and Inspiring Futures: Uganda.

Uganda has taken notable steps, including

a new commitment to do more to prevent preterm births and care for preterm babies.The government’s actions [launched in October 2012] are aimed at increasing availability and accessibility of quality maternal and newborn care services at a national level.

In 2000, Uganda met none of the 27 benchmarks set out for newborn healthcare. As of 2011, 15 of the benchmarks had been achieved with another 9 partially achieved.

But despite this progress, 9% of all children born die before the age of 5, many of them from preventable diseases like malaria.

To push Uganda up from its current ranking of 132 out of 176, more work needs to be done.

That is why my charity, Inspiring Futures: Uganda, and others are working with communities across the country to help combat preventable deaths.

Where I work, in Kanungu district, 37% of all under-5 deaths are caused by malaria. I am working to get properly treated mosquito nets to children at risk. These nets, which cost just £1.50, can be the simple barrier between life and death and can begin to address some of the issues raised in Save the Children’s report.

To find out more about Inspiring Futures’ mosquito net project please follow the link

I’d also encourage you sign up to Save the Children’s global newborn and child survival campaign.

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Experience the majesty of Queen Elizabeth National Park with Volunteer Uganda

Few African adventures are complete without experiencing the majesty of the savannah and having the opportunity to see the ‘Big Five’ up close.
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One of the highlights for many volunteers is having the opportunity to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) to go on safari.

Named to commemorate the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1954, QENP boasts a total of 95 mammal species – the highest of any Ugandan national park – spread over almost 2000 sq. km.

Although rhinos, which were brought to the point of extinction during the instability of Idi Amin’s time in power, can no longer be seen in the wild in Uganda, volunteers can see the other members of the Big Five – lions, elephants, leopards and buffalo.

The three day safari begins in Ishasha on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ishasha is most famous for its tree-climbing lion population. Around 50 lions over 3 prides exhibit this rare behaviour and Volunteer Uganda’s very own eagle-eyed spotter, Nicolas, is adept at finding them in trees or roaming the plains.

Our first volunteers of 2013 were lucky enough to see female lions – always the hunters of the pride – teaching their cubs how to hunt with a baby Ugandan Cob as the unfortunate learning aide.

An early morning game drive on day two is followed by a journey north west to Mweya on the edge of Lake Edward. Volunteers are treated to a feast of animals on a boat safari – including that other big beast of Africa, the hippo – followed by a feast of a different kind at the luxurious Mweya Safari Lodge with views of the snow-capped Rwenzori mountains on a clear day.

Some volunteers also opt to go chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge to take advantage of one of the largest chimp and baboon populations in east Africa.

Simply put, the majesty of Queen Elizabeth National Park is an experience that never leaves you.

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