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500 families in Busia displaced by floods

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By DAVID AWORI

At least 500 families from seven Sub-counties in Busia District are in urgent need of shelter and food after surging water volumes on Lake Victoria and floods razed their homes.

On top of destroying crops, several heads of cattle in Amungura Village, Buteba Sub-county are also reportedly missing after being swept by floods along River Malaba.

Mr Geoffrey Wandera, the Busia District LC5 Chairperson, on Wednesday said Majanji, Lumino, Buteba, Buhehe, Masinya, Busitema and Buyanga Sub-counties have been affected.

"The water volume in Majanji has increased, leaving most homes and gardens submerged," Mr Wandera said.

Mr Stephen Okunyuku, the Buteba Sub-county LC3 Chairperson, said six villages that lie along the banks of River Malaba have been affected by the floods.

"For the first time in years we have seen River Malaba burst its banks and wreaked havoc in villages along its course," Mr Okunyuku said, adding that they are trying to establish the total number of farmers' livestock lost to the floods.

"We had over 200 cows grazing in the flood plains of River Malaba, but we have been able to swim and retrieve less than 150 cows while the rest are missing," Mr Geoffrey Ekisa, a resident of Amungura, said of the floods that left the Busia-Tororo Road partially cut off.

Travelers plying that route had to be carried across the flooded section.

In Majanji, close to 19 villages and several gardens and homes remain submerged due to the floods, according to Mr Benson Bwire, the LC3 Chairperson.

Mr Yunus Sigolo, a resident of Namudiri Village in Majanji Sub-county, said all crops were destroyed while houses and pit latrines razed to the ground.

In Busitema Sub-county, Chawo Parish was the most affected, and like Majanji, farmers with gardens along the flood plains of River Malaba are counting losses.

Mr Julius Wandera Maganda, the State Minister for the East African Community Affairs, while delivering 12 tonnes of relief food to the Busia District Covid-19 taskforce, said there is need for government to realign programmes to target flood victims.

Expert opinion

Mr Geoffrey Kamese, an environmental expert, said human activities along the river banks and lakeshores are the cause of increasing cases of flooding and rising water levels.

According to him, construction and farming activities along rivers and lakes has led to clearing of swamps and promoted silting which has left river and lake beds badly silted.

"Swamps act as sponges; so their destruction has left soils bare which has led to increased erosion and deposition on river and lake beds, rendering them shallow," Mr Kamese said.