26 June 2019

Uganda: Landslide Victims Abandon Camps Over Cholera Outbreak

As rain continues to pound some parts of the country, Bududa District authorities have ordered landslide victims to return to their homes following cholera outbreak in Buwali Sub-county.

The landslide victims had temporarily been relocated to camps at Buwali Catholic Church and Bubiita Sub-county headquarters in Buwali and Bubiita sub-counties.

However, their lives could still be at risk since the government has severally warned of looming landslides in the district.

More than 200 households have been living in the camps after they were displaced by the recent landslides triggered by heavy rain in several villages, especially in Buwali and Bubiita sub-counties.

The disaster left more than six people dead, 27 injured and more than 400 families displaced.

With the outbreak of cholera in the district, leaders have taken measures including forcing the victims to immediately abandon the camps.

The district health officer, Dr Imelda Tumuhirwe, on Monday said: "We have confirmed three cases of the nine admitted in the isolation centre."

The patients are currently admitted to Bukigai Health Centre III.

Other nine people with similar signs of cholera in the sub-counties of Bukalasi, Nakasi, Bushiyi and Bulucheke were also admitted to different health facilities.

The district LC5 chairperson, Mr Wilson Watila, said although they had not registered any case of cholera in the camps, they took the decision for fear of an outbreak.

He added that they have embarked on massive sensitisation of the public to curtail the spread of the disease.

Dr Tumuhirwe said the outbreak was due to heavy rain that has been pounding the area, which destroyed most of the pit- latrines in the rural communities.

"The locals have been practising open defecation in the communities after their pit-latrines were destroyed by floods," she said.

She said a team of health workers is sensitising the affected communities on proper hygiene such as eating hot food, hand washing, and proper use of pit-latrines, among others. "We have also closed some of the eating places that were operating below the required health standards," Dr Tumuhirwe said.

Ms Justine Khainza, the Bududa Woman Member of Parliament, said cholera would certainly break out in the camps because hygiene and sanitation is lacking. "The issue of hygiene in the camps was very worrying but the permanent solution is relocation of the victims because their homes are also at risk of landsides," she said.

Ms Khainza said government should implement the decision of giving money to the victims to resettle themselves, saying it will save time.

"The construction of houses for the landslide survivors has been very expensive compared to handing over money to families to look for suitable places and construct their own houses," she added.

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