Uganda: Tiling Graves Bad for Uganda's Poor Soils

A tiled grave in Uganda.

Use of tiles, marble and terrazzo to finish graves is putting the productivity of Uganda's soils at risk.

Prof. Julius Zake from Makerere University's college of agricultural and environmental sciences in a report on the status of Uganda's soils and proper use of fertilisers, says cemented graves pose a growing danger to soil productivity.

"In the past people used backcloth to bury their loved ones. Now, we are using cemented graves with tiles. People are burying everywhere and more people are dying and being buried. The tiles are undegradable. They are interfering with soil status as the roots which help in soil productivity cannot penetrate through the cemented graves," Zake said in his report.

Last Monday, the professor addressed Iganga Municipal leaders and farming groups during a visit with Transform AF 1994 APS, a Danish bio-engineering group.

Transform is also a European Union certified waste management and treatment enterprise, which operates in America, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa. The Danes operate in Uganda through its affiliate, Rootzone Africa.

"In developed countries, they have places allocated for graves and leave the rest of the land for agriculture. The bodies are incinerated but in Uganda we do whatever we want, we bury everywhere; this is causing soil degradation because we are using tiles on cemented graves," he warned.

"Just as the human body needs oxygen for breathing, the soil too needs to breath in and out but this cannot be possible with tiled graves," he said.

The report also mentioned improper harvesting of crops, leaching, bush burning, turning arable land into non-agricultural land, improper use of inorganic fertiser, mono-cropping, as other causes of the severe soil degradation.

"Uganda's soils have become acidic with very low levels of organic matter and major nutrients. They require both organic matter and the major nutrients," he added.

"The introduction of biofertiliser will be very appropriate to Ugandan soils since it will add both organic and increased nutrients to the soil".

Transform biofertiliser is recommended for Ugandan soils, he said, adding that its decomposing rate is faster than the natural decomposing process.

According to Ugandan engineer, James Mawa, the Transform Bio-fertiliser uses locally generated waste which is converted into manure without chemical use.

"Garbage and organic waste can be transformed into bio-fertliser. As opposed to chemicals, the natural high temperatures kill germs from weed and disease carriers," he said.

Mawa also said the waste water treatment technology employed by Rootzone is a natural, biologically intact, low cost and low tech waste water treatment system that converts waste water for household or factory use.

Iganga Deputy Mayor, Enock Ngazula said the local leadership invited Transform to help them address the problem of garbage in the area.

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