Over 10,000 flood victims face starvation in camps

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By Joel Kaguta

More than 10,000 people who were displaced by the recent floods in Kasese District face starvation amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kasese District Covid-19 taskforce is facing a hard time enforcing the Ministry of Health and Presidential directives aimed at stemming the spread of the pandemic in the 27 camps.

Kasese District was on May 7 and 22 hit by floods when five rivers; Lhubiriha, Mubuku, Nyamwamba, Nyamughasana and Sebwe burst their banks and affected communities in seventeen sub-counties as well as Bulembia and Nyamwamba Divisions in Kasese Municipality.

Speaking to Daily Monitor in an interview at the weekend, Mr Joshua Kisembo Masereka, the Kasese Deputy Resident District Commissioner, said the state of people living in camps scattered across various sub-counties is appalling.

“Those living in camps are traumatised and are faced with emotional and mental stress emanating from the losses they registered at an individual level,” he said.

The camps housing stranded people include; Kanyangeya, Nkaiga and Kiraro primary schools having the highest number of people concentrated in one place.

When *Daily Monitor *visited one of the camps at Kiraro Primary School, no one was seen wearing a facemask.\ Despite presence of a hand washing facility that the taskforce have improvised, no one was seen washing hands.

Mr Peter Mutooro, the camp chairperson, said they have failed to enforce the directives against Covid-19 because they are facing hunger.

"Because of Covid-19, we have started decongesting families to the nearby churches and schools so that they reduce on the numbers," said Mr Mutooro.

Ms Harriet Kabugho, who chairs the committee overseeing affairs for girls within the camp, said their rights as girls were being violated every day. She explained that five of her friends have been sexually harassed by the boys within the same camp.

"We do not have bathrooms, we use the same latrines and we might contract sexually transmitted diseases," Ms Kabugho said.

The coordinator for Centre for Gender Quality, a non-governmental organisation based in Kasese town, Ms Jolly Mbambu, advised that people who are living in camps need to be resettled.

"This will not be the first time government is resettling flood victims. It was properly done during the Bududa landslides saga," Ms Mbambu said.



A tentative impact assessment by the district disaster committee that was presented to the State Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Mr Musa Ecweru, in May indicates that a total of 123,800 people, most of them women and children from more than 24,760 households have been directly affected by the floods.

The most affected areas include Kilembe, Karambi, Bugoye, Maliba, Mpondwe Lhubiriha Town Council, Karusandara, Kyarumba, Mubuku Town Council and the three divisions of Kasese Municipality.