On May 10th, 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, communities living around Mt. Rwenzori suffered a double tragedy when heavy rains caused massive destruction to property and lives. The banks of rivers Nyamwamba and Mubuk burst and caused flooding to nearby households, hospitals, gardens and destroyed livelihoods.
Kilembe mines hospital too was destroyed and a number of households were displaced. Today, over 1500 households are displaced and live in makeshift arrangements.
Uganda Red Cross quickly moved in to support the affected families by offering emergency evacuations, first aid to the affected, transfer of people and property to safer areas, and mobilized relief food and nonfood items for the affected families.
MTN Uganda foundation too joined Red Cross efforts and contributed 100 Non Food Item (NFI) kits, as part of the lifesaving efforts towards the affected people. Today, Uganda Red Cross has given relief to 250 households with a population of 1750 people.
The donated standard nonfood item kit contained 2 cooking pots, 2 Jerricans, 6 cups, 6 plates, 1 Knife, 1 Ladle, 3 blankets, 3 bars of laundry soap, 1 TARPAULIN, 3 Mosquito Nets LLITN, 1 solar lamp, 1 mat, and 1 20ltr bucket.
While engaging the Kasese District local government officials, Uganda Red Cross Secretary General Robert Kwesiiga noted that due to advancement in technology today, the floods were fore seen and a team of risk early warning and early action Volunteers in Kasese were dispatched to alert people about what was due to come. Kwesiga added that “As Uganda Red Cross we have been in Kasese working on other problems like Ebola as well as sensitizing the community about the COVID19 pandemic. The heavy rains were predicted early this year and we issued alerts. This is probably why we have not registered any deaths. While the devastation was much to property, at least no life was lost.”
Brigadier Stephen Oluka who represented the government of Uganda (Office of the Prime Minister) appreciated the Uganda Red Cross for always being fast responders. “Uganda Red Society cross has supported even other places like Bududa. I once thought that I was always the first to reach the ground when a disaster hit, but Uganda Red Cross disproved me when I got at the scene of disaster in a place where we thought nobody had reached and found the team already on ground. So as Government, we thank Red Cross for training teams that are fast and save lives always in case of any disasters.” Oluka added.
On a similar note, Lt. Walusimbi Joe, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Kasese district thanked Uganda Red Cross Society and MTN Uganda for extending support to the people of Kasese especially during this trying time of the COVID 19 pandemic, floods and uncertainty.
Sanacio Baluku, one of the victim of the floods and beneficiary of the relief appreciated the support that came in very timely considering that they were stuck. “On the day floods hit our village, most of us were left with nothing but we thank Uganda Red Cross Society that helped us to secure shelter at Kasese Primary school, and also for what they have brought for us to use in our day to day lives”. Baluku smiled.
It should be noted Kasese district is one of the disaster prone districts that constantly suffers massive floods effects whenever it rains. Rivers Nyamwamba and Mubuku over flow is felt as an outburst in the nearby communities, causing a lot of suffering to the people.
Uganda Red Cross teams remain on ground to continue sensitizing the displaced people on how to keep safe from the COVID-19 amidst the challenges caused by floods in their communities.
You can also follow how East Africa has suffered triple ripple effects of COVU-ID-19, Locusts & Floods here