The impact of internally displaced persons and their settlements on the environment: A case study of a Peri-Urban Camp (Unyama) and a Rural Camp (PABO)
This study explored the livelihoods of internally displaced people and in particular, the transforming processes and structures by which they impact on the environment. The indicators that impact on the environment are many and broad. However, the study dealt with four major issues of contention which include housing, vegetation, water resource supply and waste disposal and management. An assessment was carried out in two popularly known camps of Pabo and Unyama found in Gulu district, Northern Uganda. The results obtained indicated populations of the two camps were 64,754 in Pabo camp and 24,172 in Unyama camp living in areas of 140km2 and 36km2 respectively. This meant that there were 66 households per square kilometer in Pabo and 95 households per square kilometer in Unyama Camp. There were 9,250 households in Pabo and 3,453 households in Unyama camp with an average household size of 7 persons. There were 77.4% and 88.7% of houses in Pabo and Unyama camps, characterized by temporary materials such as grass, logs, and adobe and earth screed, extracted from the environment. A hut required an average of 575 adobes for the wall, 65 bamboo sticks and poles, and 9 large tree poles for roofing depending on the size. This implied that there were 5,318 tonnes of earth screed, 101,750 large trees and 508,750 bamboo poles worth of materials removed from the environment. The results showed a low coverage of 17.7% larger size trees in Pabo camp, 28.3% coverage in Unyama camp. There were low level of seedling in Unyama camp taking 4.9% while in Pabo camp, it was 22.1%. The distribution of samplings and poles was great in camps, 22.1% and 41.7% for samplings, and 42.2% and 17.1% in Unyama and Pabo camps respectively. This implies that mature and larger trees were being cut down excessively in Pabo camp although there was significant regeneration taking place. In Unyama camp the low level of seedlings indicated that there was very low regeneration taking place. In addition, the ecosystem in Unyama camp was already altered being a peri-urban environment and thus the impact is more indicating the low level of seedlings and trees. The impact of the IDP on the environment in the rural setting such as that of Pabo is evidently greater than that of the peri-urban, Unyama because Pabo settlers are totally and highly dependant on the environment resources for survival, whereas Unyama supplements their survival from modern technology attained from the urban center.