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Floods displace thousands nationwide

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By Monitor Team

Despite rain reducing in most parts of the country, many others continue to experience devastating effects of floods.
The raging floods have claimed about 20 lives and left thousands homeless. The worst hit are eastern, northern and western parts of the country.

In western region, Kasese District has experienced back-to-back floods after five major rivers burst their banks, sweeping away homes, schools, hospitals, and churches.

The recent episode was on May 21 when rivers Thaku and Lhubiriha burst their banks near the Uganda-DR Congo border, killing eight people.

The Kasese District environment officer, Mr Augustine Kooli, said the rainfall pattern in the area was the highest in April and May more than any other time of the year.

“The district experiences a bimodal rainfall pattern. The first rains are short but fall with high intensity and occur between March and May, and the longer rains from August to November have a low intensity,” he explained.

He added: “Annual rainfall ranges from 800mm to 1,600mm and is greatly influenced by altitude. At the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, the rainfall amount is between 1,200mm and 1,400mm.” Mr Kooli explained that under the District Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan 2017-2020, they encouraged the communities to plant trees on mountain slopes to reduce the runoff.

Western region

In Isingiro District, five people died in Kabuyanda Town Council and Kabuyanda Sub-county on May 2 following heavy rain, according to Isingiro South MP Alex Byarugaba.

The rain also triggered landslides and floods in the hilly area characterised by deep valleys. “We have always experienced these catastrophes but this time the impact was far too great; I had never seen this extent of damage by rains,” Mr Byarugaba said on Monday.

The floods and landslides destroyed houses, banana plantations, vegetable gardens, fishponds, roads and bridges.

Mr Byarugaba added that more than 800 households of between 4,000 and 5,000 people were affected in Kikagati and Kabuyanda Town Council, while bridges in Kaburara, Rwabisheri, Kabumba, and Kamwotsya were destroyed. “These are crossing points within these sub-counties, connecting health centres, schools and markets. People now can’t easily access these places. Local leaders have mobilized people who just worked on temporary measures for crossing,” he remarks.

In Kanungu District, the area vice chairman, Mr Gad Byomuhangi, on Monday said most roads and bridges were destroyed by rain and yet they do not have money to work on them.

The Kisoro District chairperson, Mr Abel Bizimana, said Rubuguri-Katojo road was cut off after Rushaga Bridge was washed away by floods.

He added that Ruhezamyenda Bridge that connects Rubuguri-Kisoro Town road was also washed away and local people have resorted to using community paths to connect to either side.

In eastern Uganda, floods mostly hit Manafwa, Kween, Bududa, Sironko, Pallisa, Butaleja, and Bukedea districts.
In Pallisa, more than 30 families were displaced at the beginning of the month after floods swept away their homes and gardens.

In Kween District, landslides killed three people and displaced about 50 families in Chepsukunya Town Council and Ngenge Sub-county.

In Budaka District, hundreds are stranded with nowhere to sleep after a heavy storm hit several villages.

Northern region

In Lango Sub-region, more than 350 households in Apac District have been left homeless.
The affected are residents of Acholi Inn Landing Site, Kayei Landing Site, Wansolo Landing Site, and Kampala Kagoi, all in Akokoro Sub-county.

The flash floods also affected residents of Aganga, Tarogali and Alworoeng parishes in Ibuje Sub-county.

Overflowing water from Lake Kyoga and River Nile is currently invading dry land along the shorelines every day, submerging homes and gardens of crops.

The Apac Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Ms Beatrice Akello Akori, said a team from the district visited the affected areas last week to assess the damage and is compiling a report that will be sent to the Office of the Prime Minister. “We are looking at resettling them at Maruzi Ranch but these people are very tricky; once you give them land, they don’t want to leave it,” she said.

In Busoga Sub-region, increasing water levels on Lake Victoria have displaced about 4,000 residents at Masese Landing Site, Rippon and Gomba, all in Jinja Municipal Council.

The councillor representing Masese at Jinja Municipal Council, Mr Ronald Katongole, said there is a need to relocate all people at Masese Landing site. “We (local leaders) have tried to do what is necessary to ensure that people are safe but due to this pandemic, sometimes people turn violent that implementing some of the health directives is challenging,” he said.

Central region

In Masaka District, increasing water levels at landing sites on Lake Victoria shoreline have started extending to villages, sparking fear among residents.

By last week, the floods had swept through Makonzi Parish, Bukakata Sub-county, displacing 450 households across five villages of Kasaka, Bwami, Bukoko, Kisuku and Makonzi .

The floods first submerged the landing sites of Lambu, Kaziru, Kisuku, Malembo and Kachanga, forcing about 20,000 people to relocate to safer places on the mainland where they have since set up makeshift houses.

Although government has extended them some relief assistance such as food and tarpaulins, the victims are still in dire need of more humanitarian assistance.
Bukakkata Sub-county chairperson Aloysius Jjuko said no deaths have been recorded though residents are at high risk of contracting water -borne diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera and Hepatitis A due to the deteriorating sanitation situation in the area.

“Our focus has been on those displaced from landing sites but the problem has escalated, residents have lost houses and crops and government should assist them as well,” he said The Resident District Commissioner, Mr Herman Ssentongo, said area leaders have been tasked to identify free government land where victims can permanently be resettled. “This tragedy is unprecedented and as government we cannot leave our people to continue suffering; a lasting solution has to be found,” he said.

Kalangala cut off

In Kalangala, flash floods have also caused similar havoc, cutting off three landing sites and separating them from the main Bugala Island. The affected landing sites are Kaazi-Malanga, Mukalanga and Kasamba in Bujumba Sub-county.
Access to the three landing sites from Bugala Island has been by road but currently, residents have to use boats to connect to the area. Mr Federico Ssekatawa, the chairperson Kaazi- Malanga Village, said life on the ‘new island’ has become very difficult as residents lack food, clean water and medical supplies.
Currently, an estimated 7,500 residents in the area have no access to electricity supply after the devastating floods forced the service provider, Kalangala Infrastructure Services, to disconnect power lines to avoid electrocution.

Compiled by Philip Wafula, Denis Edema, Felix Basiime, Enid Ninsiima, Alfred Tumushabe, Patrick Ebong, Bill Oketch, Michael Woniala,Santo Ojok, Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa and Robert Muhereza