By Anne King
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Extra info for An Economic History of Kenya and Uganda 1800–1970
Moreover, as is the case everywhere, girls tended to survive infancy better than boys. The explanation for the regional differences probably lies in (a) the availability of medical services, (b) the educational level of the mothers and (c) the presence of an adequate diet. If we compare the overall infant mortality levels with those of Western Europe, the difference is startling. In Europe in 1970 infant mortality was roughly 20 per thousand. Yet only seventy years ago, in 1900, infant mortality rates in Europe were much the same as those in East Africa today.
Around 1890 there were (a) widespread wars in Uganda and (b) widespread famines, and epidemic diseases which followed the famines, throughout East Mrica. Famine began in 1889 and in some areas continued sporadically until the end of the century. Rinderpest decimated cattle; drought and locust invasions upset crops; smallpox and dysentery killed people. Following close on the heels of these disasters came the 'pacification' campaigns waged by the Europeans in which more people died, and accompanying the adventurers and traders who were 'opening up' East Africa, and the colonial administration, came a number of diseases new to East Africa which reached epidemic proportions because the, Mrican population had no immunity against them.
Throughout East Mrica there existed very many different agricultural practices. Old methods of land use from the nineteenth century and earlier were adapted to suit the environment. Agricultural systems were based on intimate knowledge of local rain and soil conditions and on familiarity with the characteristics of indigenous trees, grasses and plants. All this information had been handed down over generations and it is not surprising, therefore, to discover that it was the old men of a clan who would advise as to the rhythm of land use, the times of planting and picking, and who would decide when to move on to another area.
An Economic History of Kenya and Uganda 1800–1970 by Anne King