Trócaire's response to floods in Uganda

from Trócaire
Published on 04 Oct 2007
Some of the worst flooding in living memory has struck across vast parts of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa in recent weeks. Extremely heavy rainfall since July has led to flooding across much of eastern and northern Uganda, affecting approximately 50,000 households, or 300,000 people, For the first time in the history of Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni declared a state of emergency on the 23 of Sept 2007.

The devastating floods, caused by unusually heavy rains, have killed more than 30 people and cut off 25 districts in the affected areas from the rest of the country. The Teso sub-region in Uganda is the worst affected, and in particular the districts of Amuria and Katakwi.

Trócaire recently carried out an assessment mission to the area with three main objectives: to understand the current status of the floods, to assess the humanitarian needs of the vulnerable populations, and to meet with our local partner - Caritas Socadido - to decide on the appropriate response.

Although the water has subsided in many places, the high water mark is still very visible on the mud walls of the houses, and more than 90% of the crops have simply rotted, leaving the population with almost no food, or seeds for the next cropping season.

The receding waters are deceptive as the ground is still heavily saturated with water and the normal rainy season is due in only a short number of months. Since this recent rain was so unseasonal, more rain any time soon will once again flood the whole region. According to the Ugandan meteorological institute, the next rainy season is expected to consist of a higher level of precipitation than normal.

Many inhabitants of the Teso region are former Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) who have been living in camps since the Northern Ugandan Civil War began over twenty years ago. In recent years, incursions from cattle rustlers and bandits from the nearby Karamoja region have escalated and become more violent, causing people to flee to camps for security. Many of them, therefore, have been dependent on small-scale agriculture, such as the cultivation of cassava, sorgum, millet, or beans, that have been most affected by the floods.

In the most affected areas, rural families have lost at least 90 per cent of their crops. With the loss of the crop, most people also lost their main source of income. The households will be unable to afford basics such as medical assistance, and school related fees, until they can make some money with the next crop to come in June 2008.

Trócaire has decided to divide its response into two phases:

A three month emergency response focusing on the distribution of Non-Food Items (such as mosquito nets, water kits, soap, drums tabs, etc.), veterinary support and training on water and sanitation.

A longer rehabilitation project involving the ploughing of 15,000 acres for agricultural use, the procurement and distribution of tools and seeds/ cuttings and harvesting kits, the promotion of crop diversification, support of health units and the development of income generating projects, such as beehives.

To contact Trócaire's press team:

Republic of Ireland

Catherine Ginty,
Press Officer,
T: +353 1 505 3270
M: 086 629 3994

Northern Ireland & UK

David O'Hare ,
Press Officer,
T: 028 90 80 80 30
M: +44 7900053884