We have all been talking about waterfalls and how they are one of the major tourist attractions in Uganda but we know little of how important they are besides attracting tourists.
Uganda has many waterfalls spread across the country and the serene beauty that they create in the areas where they are located is enough to creates a lasting impression and in this article we are going to look at the importance of waterfalls to the people who live around them and those who are far, then we will look at the dangers we are bound to face when it comes to destroying them.
Importance of waterfalls
We are going to go into detail of how we can all benefit from waterfalls.
General importance of waterfalls
• Purification of water
As they flow into the different rivers, waterfalls purify the water. Purification of water helps the different aqua life to live through provision of oxygen. So without waterfalls and their purification of water, we would have no fish to eat, and other animals that live in water would die which would affect the Eco system.
Waterfalls also help in turning waste that runs in the water into nutrients which help plants to grow. This is possible because as they pass over the rocks before flowing into the rivers and lakes, it enables bacterial growth which helps in the decomposition of the wastes.
Water that is got from the different waterfalls does not need to be treated because it is very safe to drink even without boiling.
Waterfalls also add oxygen to the water sources where they flow leading to the water and this helps the fish to breathe properly and live.
Due to the moist nature of the surrounding areas which s caused by the water falls, farmers easily cultivate their land and get good yields of crops which are sold in the different parts of the country to earn a living.
Water from the waterfalls can be used for domestic purposes like washing clothes, utensils and other things at home.
They also helping irrigation of the different crops in the country, due to changing weather that affects farmers, the waterfalls provide water which is used in irrigation purposes.
Fishing can also be done on waterfalls providing food to the people in the country.
The Ecological health benefits of waterfalls
Seen and noted by Human observers of the eco system, waterfalls can show how they are important for the eco system through the two factors listed below:
Waterfalls on a river mean a healthy life for the river and this leads to the growth of trees and plants along the River banks and the presence of the trees leads to reduced soil erosion due to stability of the soil by the plants.
Waterfalls also help to keep the eco system alive and this is seen through the abundant life that surrounds the waterfalls from people, plants to animals like lizards, reptiles, wild birds and many others.
Due to dam construction, the forests are deprived of water flow leading to the destruction of forests and damaging the eco system of the country.
Health benefits of waterfalls
Different scientists have come up with importance of waterfalls to the health of humans and all these bring out questions of why we sleep when we are near water bodies or why we feel relaxed when we are near water bodies like waterfalls, rivers, lakes and oceans. Well this has been answered below with a few health benefits of waterfalls. The calmness of the waterfalls is cause due to the release of the negative ions as the water cascades down the rocks leading to fresh cool water.
Waterfalls create calmness especially during day. Most people get tired especially during day and the negative ions from the waterfalls bring in calmness.
They also help in reduction of the free radicals which cause the damage of cells, DNA and proteins in the body through the release of the negative ions.
Waterfalls also help in reducing stress and depression. the negative ions released causes calmness and this somehow alleviates the stress and depression.
The negative ions released by the waterfalls also help in purifying blood and thus people can live a healthy life without having blood that is not clean..
The waterfalls through the negative ions release also improves on the cell metabolism in the body.
Waterfalls also help in enhancing the immunity system of the human body through the release of the negative ions.
Economic importance of waterfalls
Waterfalls attract tourists who end up buying our local produce and hence we earn money.
The Waterfalls can also be used to produce hydro electricity power.
Fishing can be carried out on waterfalls and the fish sold to get income and improve on the living standards of people.
There is provision of jobs on waterfalls like cleaners, tour guides and this has helped in reducing the unemployment levels in the country.
Threats to waterfalls
There are several threats to Ugandan waterfalls and these have been listed below:
• Water pollution
Water pollution is majorly caused by the people living around the waterfalls and industries and this has affected the aqua life in the waterfalls and affected the water its self.
Drought climatic conditions greatly affect waterfalls because during the dry and drought conditions, the water levels reduce and this is mostly caused due to the rampant deforestation happening in the country.
Construction of dams on waterfalls stops the natural flow of water and this might cause flooding and erosion.
Fracking refers to the process of industries pour untreated waste into the water hence affecting the aqua life.
Consequences of destroying waterfalls for energy purpose
There are many ways in which waterfalls can be destroyed but the most detrimental one is by constructing dams on the waterfalls. These waterfalls have a natural course flow that they follow but if a dam is constructed, the natural flow of the water is tampered with and this leads to the destruction of the waterfalls.
We all know that destruction of waterfall is detrimental to people and the country where they are located, therefore am going to discuss some dangers that will help enlighten us about how fatal it can get if all the big waterfalls are turned into electricity producing channels.
The dams that are constructed create sediment build up. Sediment build up is caused by the erosion caused by the dam construction. The sediments are carried downstream and this leads to soiling of the water and this may affect the breathing of the aqua life. The sediments can also cause a mud flat and this leads to destroying of the eco system.
When waterfalls are destroyed, there ceases to be trees to prevent fired from rapidly spreading and destruction of people’s properties.
The dam failures lead to floods and loss of life especially for those who are living around the waterfalls and dams and this happened to the Banqioa Dam and millions of lives were lost due to the heavy flooding. Failure of dams is sometimes caused by poor engineering and earthquakes.
Once a dam is constructed on waterfalls, the reservoir built can fluctuate and this increases erosion and can destabilize the surrounding cliffs. an example is happening at the Three Gorges Dam in Chin and if by any chance you are living on the surrounding cliffs, you might get eroded into the reservoir.
Construction of dams on waterfalls leads to displacement of people especially those living around the waterfalls. This leads to poor living standards of the natives who have been displaced since they have to start all over again with their lives.
Migratory organisms living in the waterfalls may reach extinction due to the destruction of waterfalls. There are various fish that migrate to the waterfalls and the water bodies where they flow into and they swim according to the flow of the water and once the dams are built, the fish finds it hard to swim causing them into extinction.
It does not matter whether you live near or far away from the waterfalls. As long as they are destroyed we all suffer the same consequences. Many people believe that it is only the government that gains from waterfalls due to the revenue that is collected from the tourists but that is not the case because we all benefit from them as mentioned earlier.
In conclusion, much as we need hydro electricity to march the ever changing world we need to look at the consequences of what we do and whether we will not regret it after sometime. There are various things that we can use to produce power like the bio gas, sunlight, waste products and others. If we focus on other sources that provide power, we will save all our remaining waterfalls for ourselves and the future generation. It is actually better to preserve all our natural heritages so that we get better results in the future.