Uganda

Kasese Floods: Victims worried about education, health

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By Julius Luwemba

Currently, Kanyangeya primary school is hosting over 98 households. The area LCI chairperson, Deogracious Isemamba said the school premises and toilets are now being used by a large community.

KASESE - Following the outbreak of floods and landslides that ravaged several areas of mountainous Kasese district, residents continue to express worry over the next course of education after several schools were washed away.

Allan Kambale a resident of Namuhuga ward in Bulembia said schools such as Bulembia primary school, Kilembe and Royal ranges secondary schools, were greatly affected by the floods, whereas others cannot be accessed after several roads and bridges were damaged.

Currently, Kanyangeya primary school is hosting over 98 households. The area LCI chairperson, Deogracious Isemamba said the school premises and toilets are now being used by a large community.

"Even if the school lock-down is lifted soon, pupils will have nowhere to study from unless an alternative area is gazetted for resettlement," Isemamba reasoned.

Similar concerns were raised by Rehema Aryema who decried the inevitable pressure on surviving school-premises, saying, learners are bound to meet a big challenge on how to resume studies when the lock-down is lifted.

In May this year, Kasese was hit by disastrous floods. The floods started on May 7 and peaked on the morning of May 10. Another disaster followed on May 21, in areas of Mpondwe-Bwera, where flash floods and landslides further destroyed bridges and infrastructure, leading to the death of more than 10 people.

The current flooding started with river Nyamwamba bursting its banks in areas of Kasese municipality sweeping away Kyanjuki-Katiri bridge and Kilembe mines hospital infrastructure. Simultaneous floods also occurred along rivers of Lhubiriha in Bukonzo west with impacts in the sub-counties of Kitholhu, Karambi and Mpondwe-Lhubiriha town council while river Nyamugasani in Bukonzo East had impacts in the Sub-counties of Kyondo, Kyarumba and Kisinga.

River Mubuku floods, on the other hand, had impacts on the communities of Maliba, Bugoye and Karusandara. Equally affected, were town councils of Ibanda-Kyanya, Kisinga and Mubuku.

Health services still a challenge

Asinet Kabugho recounts the incident of flooding which left several communities cut-off from each other. Some pregnant mothers remained stuck up in the hilly areas and couldn't access medical services.

"The situation was only mitigated by a certain group of volunteers who transported affected people in ambulances," Kabugho recollects.

After the nearest Kilembe mines hospital premises were damaged by floods, medical services were shifted to premises of St. Micheal Kindergarten and at Catholic social centre (Karitus hall) in Kasese town.

Dr Edward Wefula the hospital superintendent calls for an urgent alternative water source, mortuary, incinerator, placenta pit and more toilets, saying, the new premises were not designed for a hospital.

However, Sr. Teopista Basemera the Kilembe hospital senior administrator, expressed hope of having more structures with a 200-bed capacity.

Malteser International a worldwide humanitarian relief agency, through the prime minister's office and the ministry of health, committed relief and recovery aid worth sh868m for the period of 3months since May 12.

According to Laura Beutler the technical coordinator for emergency medical services under Malteser, as of May 13, over 39,000 people had been affected by the floods.

"We have made more than 1,317 transferals out of which, 171 babies were successfully delivered from complicated pregnancies," noted Laura, adding that, eight of the born babies, were delivered from within ambulances.

She hence expressed a need to build capacity in pre-hospital care, where a formidable team of residents and health workers can be trained to administer first aid before or while transferring a patient to the hospital.

For over 3months of rescue and providing relief support, Malteser trained and passed out 23 Kasese residents in providing emergency medical services among which include, first aid and ambulance operations.

"We are striving to establish an Emergency Medical Services project in Kasese so that people can respond by themselves and activate support in an immediate and structured way," noted Laura.

She, however, expressed fear over the possible outbreak of diseases especially the COVID-19. She said the preventive measures are largely missing at all settlement camps.

The population of the people in camp is high, the implementation of the COVID-19 SOPs is hard. Social distancing and hand washing are hard to implement.