The “neighbour principle”; My Switzerland rush-hour experience and holding GHG Emitters accountable in negligence.

Last month, I joined the running bandwagon. I think I deserve a Swiss Bronze medal of sorts because I made my running debut on the Swiss soil besides it being a cross-country marathon. For three weeks my days started with a simple sometimes serious sprint to either the bus or train station and so was the rest of the day. The gold medal should be saved for the people of Berne, they are un disputed champions when it comes to running in train terminals.

It’s not because I don’t run, I can actually run Usain Bolt style if am being chased or when it’s threatening to rain. Am also in the know of the benefits of running; besides the obvious health related ones, I could also pass off as urbane and fashionable to a reasonable extent.

In Uganda, you really have to be very careful if you decide to run on the streets of Kampala. If you are lucky enough not to be apprehended after being mistaken to be a criminal, the whole street will run with you just in case what is chasing you may have common implications. Perhaps that’s why I developed cold feet for running.

While on the train from Berne to Zurich of course after 10 minutes or so of cooling off from the “marathon”, my eyes are glued on the window to catch another glimpse of the nuclear station near our train. After the train dashing past the nuclear station, the thoughts of the next lecture I  am about to give on sustainable development and climate change in Uganda get mixed up with the tort (negligence) lectures I received in the law school.

There is this case of Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] UKHL 100 I learned in the law school also known as the “snail in the bottle “case. It forms the foundation of the Common law principle of negligence. In the case, a lady drank a ginger beer in a café whose bottle contained a dead snail thereafter fell sick and sued.  This fundamental case at that time went up to the court of last resort in the UK the House of Lords and the most important question was about the duty of care which Lord Atkins explained basing on the ” neighbour principle”.

He stated, “you must not injure your neighbour; and the lawyer’s question, Who is my neighbour? receives a restricted reply. You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who, then, in law, is my neighbour? The answer seems to be – persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question”.

Whereas it is prudent to commend the Swiss effort towards creating “clean energy”, the Fukushima disaster should be able to awaken us. While attending the YES (Youth Encounter for Sustainability) in Naivasha Kenya, Dr. Roger Baud illustrated the possibility of efforts employed in promoting sustainability becoming counterproductive and perhaps more deadly than the problem which is initially meant to be solved. I believe Fukushima suits well in that picture.

The IPCC REPORT released recently states that humans are the dominant cause of global warming. The lawyer in me is convinced that “snail in the bottle “case could help bring the biggest emitters of GHGs to courts of law for negligence and failing the neighbor principle test in the aftermath of floods or droughts.

By Mugisha Moses Mugisha_kamera

Beast versus Man: A Grave Effect of Climate Change

Children on their way to school examine the carcass of one of the lions killed by Maasai warriors as revenge for the death of their livestock.

Sometime last month; an unbelievable scene took place in the southern side of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. Lions from a nearby animal reserve attacked meek sheep and goats belonging to the sleepy Maasai village that bordered it. The incident was one of its kind; as almost a full herd was destroyed. Later the Morans (Maasai Warriors) ganged up and launched a revenge on the wild cats,killing six of them, but a few days later the beasts retaliated with the hunting down of the remaining livestock. Observing this, I can only quip that this ugly human-wildlife conflict is the product of lack of food for the animals. Famine in the wild due to minute rain is an effect of global warming and as such; has led to severe starvation in the savannah. The food chain has been disrupted; because the vegetation is scarce  leading to the death of the herbivores that are preyed on by the Kings of the Jungle. Meanwhile, the Kenya Wildlife Services is faced with the dilemma on whether or not to prosecute the villagers. Despite the Maasai having acted in self-defense they broke the law since lions are currently among East Africa’s endangered species. If we only work to improve our environment; we the Maasai can be able to live in peace with other creatures like we used to before.

By Sylvia Nashipae Mosiany,



Grand Ma, what has changed?

By Monica Mbugua, Kenya

I asked my grand ma to tell me about her life as she grew up and how different it was from the way she see’s life now. Her face lite up because for her it was a nostalgic feeling that brought up a happy memory.

Some of the things she remembers is that the weather back then was a lot cooler and more pleasant than it is now. She enjoyed every changing season because with it would come lots of excitement for the period it lasted. It was Weiterlesen

Rescuing our Soil

By Sylvia Nashipae Mosiany, Nakuru, Kenya

Soil erosion is the removal of the uppermost layer of earth which is the most fertile. Although it is a natural and unavoidable process, climate change is causing it to be detrimental.  For instance, the increase in global temperatures has resulted in heavy rainfall that sweeps off the topsoil. Usually soil regenerates another layer from the subsoil but again due to global warming, the rate of erosion supersedes that of the replacement of lost soil. This problem is serious in most parts of the world since more than 99% of our food is from soil. Therefore, the ideal way to reduce the menace is to plant vegetation, most suitably trees. Weiterlesen

Save Water, Save Life

Everyone seems to have gotten their umbrellas out- a clear indication that the rainy season has come in Kenya, albeit surprisingly. Despite greening yellowed vegetation; more harm than good has ensued from the downpour these past few weeks. Cases of landslides, floods and even outbreak of water-borne diseases are reported almost daily in the local press. Ironically, there are also water shortages, caused by destruction of water conduits. Consequently, cultivation activities are being approached with extreme caution since this rain is as a result of a change in the climate pattern hence cannot be depended upon. However, opportunity exists for my country to embrace water harvesting and catchment. This shall assist in creating reserves for irrigation during dry spells and making good use of the raging torrent. Furthermore, citizens may learn to embrace fish farming since ponds can thrive well with the abundant water. Indeed, these are the times when a drop of water saved is a thousand lives preserved.

By Sylvia Nashipae Mosiany, Kenya.


Lake Tanganyika is first Deepest Lake in Africa and the Second deepest lake world wide. According to American scientific says temperatures have been warming since the 1900s at rate not seen for a least of 1,500 years. Climate change has been causing rise in temperature that impact production levels of the Lake Tanganyika, affecting the livelihoods of millions of Tanzanians who depend on the lake’s ecosystem. Fish catches are declining, which has lead to declines income and protein that feed local families.

What will be the next for our future generation?

We have to take action and save the ecosystem of the Lake Tanganyika.

Climate change is real   

We need more and more action

The Plight of the Maasai Women

By Monica Mbugua, Kenya

– The Maasai are an indigenous community found in Kenya and Northern Tanzania. They are pastoralist community and occupy the Narok and Kajiado Districts in Kenya. The basic and economic social unit is a semi permanent settlement of several families pasturing their stock together. Weiterlesen

Climate Change May Make Insect-Borne Diseases Harder to Control

By Merculine Maoncha, Kenya

– Warmer temperatures will combine with numerous other factors to make diseases like malaria and the West Nile virus harder to control. Climate change can influence how infectious diseases affect the world, particularly illnesses spread by vectors like mosquitoes. Now scientists have developed some understanding about how rainfall and temperature can influence malaria, dengue and West Nile virus infections as well as ways to combat them. Weiterlesen

Lake Nakuru in the Great Rift Valley

By Merculine Maoncha, Kenya

– The UNESCO world heritage site of Lake Nakuru is situated approximately 164 kilometers from Nairobi, a two hour’s drive from Nairobi city. It is dominated by a gentle undulating terrain with open bush and woodlands, typical of the dry rift valley vegetation. Weiterlesen

Weather is not Climate

By Monica Mbugua, Kenya

– How I would explain climate change to a child? Well, I figured children understand things better if you give them information in form of a story or if you try and give them a good mental picture of something as much as possible. I have a cousin we live with who is 8 years old. I tried explaining in the best possible way what climate is. Weiterlesen

Heavy rains show the necessity to change our behaviour

By Monica Mbugua, Kenya

– Tonight on the news we received some rather sad news. 5 people so far have died and thousands rendered homeless by floods in many parts of Kenya mainly the western side of Kenya which is a region that is called Budalangi, other parts that are close to lake Victoria and near the coast of Kenya which borders the Indian ocean. Weiterlesen

Tibet: The „Third Pole“

By Tenzin Jamyang Nyandak, India

– The climate change conference to be held in Durban from November 28 to December 9 is attended by more than 150 leaders. This is my sincere request that we need concrete action to tackle climate change. The environmental situation of my country, Tibet, is especially fragile: Scientists sometimes call the Tibetan Plateau ‘the third pole’. Weiterlesen