Uganda - Floods: 174 schools fail to open in east
A total of 174 schools in eastern Uganda cannot open for the new term today as a result of the floods that have ravaged the region. In an interview with The New Vision, disaster preparedness minister Musa Ecweru said most of the affected schools are in Amuria, Katakwi, Manafwa and Bukedea districts.
"Classrooms and teachers' houses have been destroyed. Structures have collapsed, while others have developed huge cracks. A good number of schools have been displaced because of flooded premises," Ecweru said.
Sanitation and access are additional problems, according to the minister who just returned from the affected areas. "There is no safe water for most of the schools. The majority of latrines are filled up and many have collapsed. Access roads to schools have also been damaged and rendered impassable."
The ministry of education, together with Unicef, is providing tents and mobile toilets in some of the affected schools. "Unicef has also pledged to provide UNEB with tents from where to conduct Primary Leaving Examinations. Primary 5 to 7 may be allowed to open first in the affected schools, leaving out those in lower classes," Ecweru noted.
Meanwhile, two more people have been killed by the floods, bringing the death toll to at least 21. Dominic Lomongin and Aleper Lomer, both residents of Kaiku village in Namalu sub-county, Nakapiripit district, drowned on Tuesday night.
"We have failed to trace the bodies," the RDC, Michael Bwalatum Okiring, told The New Vision on phone. "They must have gone with the water."
More people, too, have been displaced by the floods. Hundreds of residents of Lomorimor village and the parishes of Loperot, Kokuam, Lokatapan and Loregei were forced to flee to the neighbouring Kakomongole sub-county in the past days.
"They are camped in an area which lacks food and basic necessities of life," Bwalatum said, appealing to the Prime Minister's office to bring relief to the displaced.
The collapse of Cheptui Bridge, that links Nakapiripirit to Mbale, aggravated the situation, he added. "Even the connection to Moroto is under threat since one of the main bridges is about to collapse."
In a related development, the Prime Minister has appealed to the leadership in eastern and northern Uganda not to politicise the disaster. Addressing a congregation at the installation of the archbishop of Tororo at the Uganda Martyr's Cathedral on Saturday, the premier said some politicians claimed that the Government had paid little attention to the tragedy because people in the affected regions did not vote for the Presdient.
"That is not true. As a Government, we have used the disaster preparedness department to send relief to the affected areas. My office has held a series of meetings to address the pertinent problems," Apolo Nsibambi said.
He revealed that the President had rung him to express his utmost concern over the disaster. The Government was committed to serve every part of the country, irrespective of the people's political inclination, he said.