New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Floods Ravage Districts

Photo: New Vision
Floods destroy homes.

Service delivery in Nakaseke district has been affected after floods triggered off by torrential rains cut off some parts of the district. Most affected is Kaasangombe sub-county where the floods have cut off Nakaseeta Police Post and rendered two major feeder roads impassable.

The two roads - Luweero-Nakaseeta-Nakaseke and Wobulenzi-Nakaseke - are the major feeder roads joining Luweero to Nakaseke Hospital. Several villages have also been cut off from the rest of the district.

A flooded Nakaseeta Police post in Nakaseke district The heavy rains, which intensified last week, have caused several small rivers such as Lugogo to burst their banks, washing away roads.

This has compelled motorists going to Nakaseke from Luweero, to use the longer Kalule-Nakaseke route. The few boda boda motorcyclists who use the flooded roads have hiked the fare to 12,000 from the usual 5,000.

Also submerged in the floods are crop fields owned by HNHE FARM, a Chinese agricultural company based at Nakaseeta village. Patients are stuck in villages without health care, while several primary school pupils have stopped going to school for fear of drowning.

The district secretary for works, Benjamin Makanga, said on Saturday that the district authorities were still looking for funds to repair the damaged roads. Residents wade through the flooded road in Kaasangombe sub-county, Luwero district

Katakwi victims starve:

At least 1,600 families in Katakwi district lack enough food, with most households surviving on one meal a day because of the floods that hit the area in August. Over 13 villages in Magoro sub-county had their crops destroyed in the gardens. Besides, several people lost beddings and are now sleeping on grass in their homes.

The LC1 chairman Ooliri village, Omasia parish, Vincent Okanya, told New Vision over the weekend that children were the most affected in the villages. Okanya explained that the situation had worsened with increased rains, but added that things were slowly getting better since the rains had started reducing.

He added that most homesteads had lost houses, forcing some families to share limited space with neighbours. "Most huts are damp and children are developing rash on their bodies," he said.

Florence Atyang, a resident of Ooliri village, said the floods destroyed her two acres of cassava, adding that she had nothing to feed her family on. She appealed to the Government to provide the victims with food for the next seven months until they harvest next year.

The sub-county chief, Daniel Magoro Opio, said the floods destroyed all the access roads. "Most feeder roads have been demolished and need urgent repair," he noted.

He identified the roads in Magoro, Ngariam, Palam, Omodoi, parts of Usuk and Ongongoja as the most affected. He added that the destruction of these roads had made it impossible to access basic needs.

He said the floods had forced five schools to close until recently when they were re-opened for the third term. Opio added that two people had lost their lives as huts crumbled and fell on them in the night. He asked the Government to provide mosquito nets, water purifiers, tarpaulins for drying the rotting food stuffs and some relief items.

Kibaale residents ordered to vacate plains:

Kibaale residents living in the low-lying areas especially the flood plains have been ordered to vacate immediately.

The director of National Emergency Co-ordination Operation Centre in the Office of the Prime Minister, Maj. Gen. Julius Oketta, said: "Nobody should be living in the flood plains because they are susceptible to floods and we do not want a repeat of such disasters."

He was meeting the people affected by the flooding of Nkusi river in Birembo sub-county Kibaale district. Oketta is the national coordinator of disaster management and response in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).

He said it is possible to replace the destroyed crops, but impossible to replace the lost lives. Oketta visited the devastated areas and attended the burial of the 57-year-old Mugyenyi and his three-year-old daughter identified as Kayesu who were killed by waters on Tuesday.

He said although the Government was responding to the needs of the people, the residents need to take caution and leave the flood plains. "We have already requested for immediate relief to come and help the affected people, especially food and utensils," said Oketta.

The floods swept away over 41 homesteads and over 280 people were left homeless as their mud-and-wattle houses were brought down. Oketta said the affected people were free to live with their relatives, adding that the Government would provide them with food. "We want to work out a concrete plan of resettling these people so that such disasters do not occur again in the same area," said Oketta.

Crops such as maize, beans, potatoes and groundnuts were destroyed in six villages of Kikandwa, Rwebigaga, Rwasengura, Kiyanja and Kabuhuuna in Birembo and Kyebando sub-counties in Kibaale district.

The river flooded for over 200 metres on either side, causing havoc. The residents told New Vision that at around 9:00pm on Monday night, they heard a sound similar to that of a bus and suddenly found themselves in waters.

Two children who were with the late Mugyenyi miraculously survived the disaster and were rescued by the Police and residents. They were on top of the papyrus, some 300 metres away from their home. "We found these two children clinging on the papyrus after spending one day in the wild and they were still alive," said John Ojokuna Elatu, the district Police commander, who headed the operation.

The district natural resources officer, Louis Balikudembbe, said the disaster came to this magnitude because the people interfered with the natural flow of the river.

"These people had constructed houses less than 50 metres from the main river and they could not survive," said Balikudembbe.

Elatu said the children were rushed to a nearby health centre for treatment and are now normal and living with relatives in the village.

Govt, Red Cross assist flood victims:

The Office of the Prime Minister has delivered both food and non-food relief items to the people affected by floods in Kibaale district. The items have been distributed to over 400 people in 52 affected households and the host families. Among the items distributed are 3,000kg of beans, 5,000kg of posho, 151 blankets, 132 basins, plates, cups and 120 tumplines.

George Willy Tusabomu, the Kibaale district planner who is heading the distribution exercise, said the number of beneficiaries is likely to go high due to the host families. "We have distributed the items but more is still needed," said Tusabomu.

Those affected by the floods were discouraged from camping in one place due to the health and sanitation problems that would arise. They were advised to stay with relatives and friends that have latrines and other amenities.

Uganda Red Cross Society also distributed various non-food items to the flood victims.

The manager of the Uganda Red Cross Society Kibaale branch, Isa Sunday, said they have distributed 60 blankets, 40 tarpaulins for shelter, 40 mosquito nets, sauce pans, soap and other home utensils. "We are on ground to ensure that the situation does not deteriorate because it could lead to disease outbreaks," said Sunday.

The beneficiaries are in the sub-counties of Birembo, Kakindo, Kyebando and Kiryanga. The most affected villages - Kikandwa, Rwebigaga, Rubasengura, Kikwaya, Kihanga, Rutooma, Kiyanja and Kyabahiigi - also received relief items.

Meanwhile, the water levels of River Nkusi on the Kagadi-Hoima road have greatly reduced, but the road is still not safe to be used by motorists.

Uganda National Roads Authority Hoima station manager Jonathan Wazimbe said: "We advise the public to use alternative routes to connect to either Hoima or Kagadi as we assess the condition of the affected section," said Wazimbe.

UNRA declared the Hoima-Kagadi road closed because it is not safe to be used by motorists. The alternative route is Buhimba-Nalweyo-Kakumiro-Mubende which connects to Fort Portal.

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