6 March 2010

Uganda: Do Not Politicise Bududa Tragedy


Kampala — Following last week's tragedy in Bududa, where hundreds of villagers died in a massive landslide, some politicians have started blaming the Government. It is right for the Government to take responsibility when it fails to protect its people, but natural calamities like landslides, especially the Bududa one, are beyond the Government's responsibility.

Those advancing views that the Government should have relocated the people long before the landslide are just populists. Certainly they would have been the first to resist any such programme and made it unpopular had it been implemented.

So finding fault with the Government or local leaders is simply playing cheap politics that is not going to help. First, it will not reverse the desperate situation of the people in the wake of the killer landslide. Secondly, it only mocks the dead and aggravates the grief of those who lost their relatives and friends in the disaster.

The right way forward is to pick lessons from the Bududa calamity to avert future loss of life and property in that particular area and others throughout the country. One big lesson is the need to build rescue capacity during disasters.

The other is for people living in mountainous areas with insufficient vegetation cover and exposed slopes to know that they are courting danger. The Government must evaluate the risks and act with their co-operation.

Sometimes it is out of tragedies that society finds lasting solutions to problems. Many countries have risen from devastation, destruction and death with lessons to deal with calamities. That is what Uganda should do.

Otherwise, turning Bududa into political capital by critics of the Government is callous. The debate should be about finding ways of averting disasters.

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