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 Update on Activities

ACLENet leaders take every opportunity to publicize what we are doing and educate about lightning injuries in Africa, speaking at many venues including presenting papers at the American Meteorological Society lightning meeting in January 2021.
We will focus on one each month. 
This month, an update on ACLENet activities.

Note: ACLENet is entirely supported by donations and grants and receives no government money or assistance from either the US or Uganda where our operations are currently centered. All who work with ACLENet donate their time and expertise – the only paid staff are the few (but wonderful) employees we support in Uganda.
Newsletter Content:
Update on Activities
Lead Story, Editors' Note 
'Tell your story'
Lightning Folklore
Lightning events reported for February

Video: AMS presentation on ACLENet Activities
Six pupils killed after being hit by lightning in Rukwa region - Nkasi district Tanzania
On Wednesday evening 17 February 2021 at Nkana village, three pupils who belonged to the same family were killed while playing near their parent's house.

Nkasi District Commissioner, Mtanda said that shortly after the incident in Nkana village, he received information on a similar incident at Nchenje village where three other pupils were also killed by lightning on Wednesday. The ages of the children ranged from 5 to 12.

''Let us not link these incidents with superstitious beliefs; the events are just like other incidents,'' said the district commissioner.
Read more


A Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) is defined as an incident in which emergency medical service resources, such as personnel and equipment, are overwhelmed by the number and severity of casualties.
In most African rural settings, emergency medical service resources are scanty or non-existent.

It is in the villages that much or all economic activity is conducted outdoors, increasing exposure and vulnerability to lightning injury or death. People go out to tend their gardens, graze their livestock, sell in open marketplaces, attend open-air ceremonies, and children play in the open spaces. Literacy levels are also at their lowest in these rural areas which further complicates effective public safety messaging.

Our (ACLENet) investigations in the MCIs of Ayivu, in Arua district, and Mongoyo, in Yumbe district, Uganda, lightning incidents where multiple children were killed, have confirmed our fears. The general public is highly vulnerable to lightning hazard while emergency medical service resources are at their lowest. This increases the risk of lightning injury leading to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness – where people expect no remedy and surrender to natural forces.

We have also learned that hopelessness within communities is a powerful driver of conspiracy theories. In most African communities, these conspiracy theories gravitate towards superstition. Many incidents are attributed to spiritual causation and other theories that actually increase the risk of lightning injury because when people believe their situation is controlled by supernatural forces, they feel powerless to change the outcome by changing their behavior or using safer alternatives. MCIs deepen these superstitions by increasing the levels of helplessness and hopelessness.

In Arua, for lack of a solution, a rosary was hung in the unfinished house whose verandah was the scene of a lightning MCI that claimed the lives of ten young boys. The community hopes for any kind of remedy or relief were raised when they interacted with the ACLENet team which was accompanied by a community liaison officer at the regional police headquarters. They longed for somebody to listen to their stories of the tragedy that befell them, to understand their plight, and to offer some form of remedy.
Response has to be in that order for it to be effective for helping deeply traumatized people.

Fortunately, we also learned that formal engagement helps in reducing superstition. The majority of people in Africa have strong beliefs in the power of government. Effective formal response can dramatically reduce the spread of conspiracy theories and superstition. We are all comforted by the counsel of Nkasi district commissioner in Tanzania who, after receiving reports of six children dying due to lightning in one day, said: 
‘Let us not link these incidents to superstitious beliefs,
the events are just like other incidents.'
DONATE to Save the Lives of African Children
Tell your lightning story
Ask questions

Become one of our Citizen Reporters
by reporting an incident.

FOCUS: Daniel Esteban Villamil Sierra is an engineer, doctoral student and lightning safety advocate from Colombia, South America. He monitors and translates Google searches on lightning incidents in Africa for us in Spanish and Portuguese languages to post in these newsletters and on our website database. Daniel says,
'It is the ethical duty of all lightning researchers to spread the message of lightning safety to all people.'

Last week another volunteer contacted us who will help with French reports. Look for his profile soon!

We welcome all volunteers to help us build a database on lightning injuries, deaths and property damage across Africa!
A US belief (for a change!)

Why Your Dog Freaks Out During Thunderstorms

Believe it or not, summer is just around the corner—and with it thunderstorms that may freak out your dog. Signs of anxiousness in dogs are ears back, tails down, eyes wide, panting, lip-licking and yawning. Sometimes, their panic escalates to dangerous levels during thunderstorms.

Dogs can sense when the barometric pressure drops before a storm. Darkening skies, wind and the sound of thunder may also seem ominous, causing fearful reactions. Some dogs have canine noise aversion, which can make them uncomfortable or even phobic about loud sounds.

Static buildup in their fur is another likely explanation. Large dogs and those with long or double coats easily build up static electricity, the way we do when we wear a sweater and get a shock from the car door or walk across a carpet in the winter.

Dogs may experience numerous shocks from static electricity during thunderstorms. This explains why they may run toward the rooms and places such as b
asements, bathtubs, and other enclosed spaces in your home that are more likely to be grounded.

African Lightning Events for February
Lightning Kills Four in Mangochi, Three Injured

1 February 2021
Read more
Lightning kills 25 cattle
6 February 2021
Read more
Lightning Strikes Three Siblings, Kills One In Rutsiro District

7 February 2021
Read more
Five people killed by lightning in Karonga
7 February 2021
Read more
Click to find out how!
Six pupils killed after being hit by lightning in Rukwa
17 February 2021
Read more
Woman killed by lightning in Phalomb 
19 February 2021
Citizen Reporter Gilbert Phiri
Read more
Lightning kills 3 people in two separate incidents in Mangochi District
22 February 2021
Citizen Reporter Gilbert Phiri
Read more
Six-year-old girl killed by lightning in KZN
South Africa
24 February 2021
Read more
ACLENet Activities
Paper presented at the American Meteorological Society lightning virtual meeting in January.
For video of lightning across Africa,
Click to read past Newsletters
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