Uganda

Why Bududa landslide victims decline resettlement

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By FRED WAMBEDE & LEONARD MUKOOLI

Bududa. Mr Peter Mataki’s house sits on a steep slope and on either side is a garden of banana plantation inter-cropped with beans. Mr Mataki, a resident of Suume village in Bukalasi Subcounty in Bududa District, has lived here for decades despite several warnings that his home is sitting on a “time bomb”.

“This is where my grandparents lived and no one among them died because of landslides. This area is safe but people keep telling me to leave,” Mr Mataki, says.

The 60- year-old and a father of 6 children, says not all slopes are prone to landslides as government officials and local leaders claim. “You can look around and see for ourselves. This area is fertile and we have never experienced hunger. We do not know famine,” he says. He says it is only his neighbours who are seldomly displaced by landslides when it over rains.

Ms Violet Namukhura, a resident of Bukobero parish in Buwali Subcouunty, says they have continued to live in the high-risk areas because they have on better option. “Whenever the government relocates us, they take us to worse and dry places, where farming is not viable like Kiryandongo. We don’t like that,” Ms Namukhura, says.

Rebuilding

A visit to Summe Village, where the previous landslides occurred on October 11 in Bukalasi Sub-county, leaving more than 55 people dead, some of the victims had started rebuilding their houses, which had been partially washed away by floods after the river burst its banks. Others were erecting new houses at the site, deemed a landslide-prone area. At Suume Junior Academy, a primary school that lost a pupil after its premises were buried, the administration had also rebuilt the classroom structures.

Ms Slyvia Seera, another victim, says they are hesistant because they fear to be tormented by the indigenous locals in the new places. “The Kiryandongo experience was like hell to us. We suffered a lot but the government did not give us much attention,” she says. Ms Mary Nabukobero, another victim, says they are willing to be relocated but they should be taken to safe and fertile places where they can carry out farming.

“If the government cannot find such places, let them give us money and we relocate ourselves to safe places of our choice,” he said. Mr Vincent Masanga, 60, a resident of Suume village, said although the government is slow in it approach to relocate the victims, the victims are partly to blame.

“The victims who were displaced during the previous landslide, had gone back and reconstructed their houses in same dangerous places,” he says.

However, some survivors of Tuesday landslide, who have now sought refuge in churches, schools and trading centres, said they are in dire need of relocation. They said they are willing to be relocated to Bunambutye Subcounty as soon as possible to start a new life.