Uganda: Floods displace 15,000

Heavy rains have again hit several parts of Uganda, leading to two deaths, destruction of property and displacement of at least 15,000, people.

A number of rural areas have been cut off from the rest of the country. Reports from the countryside say the most affected areas are parts of Adjumani and Moyo districts in the West Nile region, parts of Nakapiripirit, Moroto, Kaabong and Abim districts in the Karamoja region, Kiboga and Kayunga districts in the central region, as well as Kasese in western Uganda.

The deaths occurred in Nakapiripirit and Bukwo districts. Last year's floods led to death of 47 people.

On August 25, the Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Prof Tarsis Kabwegyere, warned that several parts of the country faced flooding due to heavy rains expected in September or October.

Prof. Kabwegyere told journalists at the Media Centre in Kampala that the epicentre of the heavy rains was expected to be eastern Uganda, where an estimated 3.5 million people were affected by similar floods last year.

In Moroto District, authorities told Daily Monitor that up to 12,000 people have been displaced by floods since the beginning of November.

The LCV Chairman, Mr Ken Lochap, said most of the displaced people are now camped in primary schools and health centres after they abandoned their homes.

"Floods are everywhere given the heavy rainfall patterns. In fact the entire district, especially the sub-counties of Lotome where two parishes have all flooded. In Nabwai, the road has been destroyed and the area is completely cut off from service delivery. At Rupa and Katikekile sub-counties, crops, livestock and property has been destroyed," explained Mr Lochap.

Abim RDC Bob Wasugirya, yesterday said by telephone that the district has been cut of from the rest of the country since November 12 when heavy rains damaged the road network. Mr Wasugirya said a considerable number of people had been displaced.

In Adjumani, several acres of farmland were submerged after torrential rains hit the area in the last two months. Residents told Daily Monitor of their fears that famine could break.

Mr Stephen Iga, the LC3 Chairman of Pakelle Sub County, said areas affected by floods had become vulnerable to disease outbreaks.

Mr Iga said in his sub county alone, about 70 per cent of latrines and 25 per cent of houses have so far been destroyed.

"You can hardly get latrines in this sub county. The few that have survived up to now may not even survive the remaining days if it continues to rain like this," he said.

Obongi MP Hassan Kaps Fungaroo, yesterday told journalists at Parliament that more than 1,000 people in the West Nile region have been displaced.

The worst hit sub-counties include Itula, Difile, Lefori, Gimara and Aliba, where over 100 families are now homeless with Amua Bridge which connects Adjumani to Moyo collapsed by heavy floods in the area.

"Hundreds have been displaced with no humanitarian intervention. As we talk now, various roads and a key bridge in West Nile have been washed away. We need help otherwise floods may soon start killing people," he said.

Mr Fungaroo said roads like the Obongi-Moyo Road, Nimule-Moyo Road that connects to Sudan, Panjara-Dufile-Laropi Road, Iboa-Palorinya Road have also been affected.

In Kasese, more than 40 people were injured and 150 homesteads destroyed by a heavy downpour in Kasese town on October 28.

The LC5 chairpman of Soroti District, Mr Stephen Ochola, said five sub counties of Kateta, Pingire, Kadungulu and Bugondo on the Lake Victoria shores have appealed for relief.

One of the affected districts like Katakwi, have had nearly a quarter of its feeder-roads network damaged by the rains.

State Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Musa Ecweru, said government would soon issue an alert to road users on the situation.

But even as the government gets ready to combat the floods this year, some of the damages caused by last year's floods have not addressed.

"A lot of money was raised and earmarked for the post flood effects. Where is it? Most of these bridged on the feeder roads should have been put right by now," Amuria District chairman Julius Ochen said.

Apart from deaths last year's floods led to loss of an estimated Shs12 billion countrywide and forced government to declare a state of emergency.

While issuing the flood alert in August, Prof. Kabwegyere warned people on mountain slopes in Bundibugyo, Kasese and around Mt Elgon to be prepared for relocation because the rains may cause landslides in those areas.

Reported David Mafabi in Nakapiripirit, Michael Karugaba in Kasese, Richard Otim in Soroti, James Eriku in Adjumani & Yasiin Mugerwa in Kampala