On the Morning of Sunday, July 31 2022, Uganda woke to the news of floods and landslides in parts of Eastern Uganda, specifically the districts around Mt. Elgon region including Mbale, Kapchorwa, Bulambuli, Namisindwa, Sironko, Manafwa and the surrounding areas.

According to Independent Magazine of 3rd August 2022, the death toll resulting from flooding in the Elgon sub-region had risen to 29.  The disaster followed heavy rains that pounded the Bugisu and Sebei regions on July 30, 2022, forcing several rivers to burst their bunks leading to flooding and landslides.

Relief web Floods, landslides: Gov’t speaks out on disaster situation – Uganda | ReliefWeb explains how different natural disasters have happened in Uganda over time. Heavy rains that happened in Dec 2019 led to the death of 2 adults and 2 children in Nabodi village, Bumumulo Parish of Zesui subcounty. A rapid assessment established that over 4,000 people (500 households) were affected and they lost hundreds of acres of plantations, crops and livestock.

River Manafwa, a major river draining Mt Elgon burst its banks and washed away 25 houses downstream whose occupants had early heeded OPM alert messages and shifted to safer areas.

A number of villages in the districts of Bukedea, Serere, Ngora, Katakwi, Amuria, Kapelebyong, Tororo and Otuke were submerged.

Flooding has frequently happened in Kasese claiming people’s lives and properties. The most recent happened when an overflow happened on Mubuku and Sebwe rivers that originate from Mt. Rwenzori. The overflow swept through several villages, devastating the houses, gardens and pit latrines pouring into Kenyatete swamps and Lake George. The same has been happening with the River Nyamwamba.

Reported in the Independent Magazine of 3rd August 2022, the Disaster Preparedness Minister Hon. Hillary Onek while addressing journalists asserted, the flooding that last happened in Mbale is as a result of environmental degradation. He cited the example of an industrial park that was built in a swamp, which used to serve as a water passage.

In Mbale city, over 250 acres of Bugema and Namatala swamps were turned into an industrial park, and along with Nasenyi, Kamonkholi, Musoto Masanda Doho, Busamaga Marare and Maluku wards.

He also said that residents have also continued to settle on mountain slopes where they also carry out agricultural activities, which have destabilised the area making it vulnerable when the area receives heavy rains.

In a press statement released by National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) on the 4th August 2022, it’s said  that over the years, Uganda like the rest of the world has been experiencing erratic alternate drought and high rainfall seasons, which is a manifestation of Climate Change.

Climate change manifests in many ways including extreme heat conditions (heat waves), above normal rainfall, melting glaciers, raising water levels. In recent years there have been droughts and floods alike in several parts of the country including Isingiro, Karamoja, Bundibugyo, Kasese and surrounding areas. In 2019-2020 Uganda experienced rising water levels in the Lake Victoria, Kyoga, Albert and River Nile basins.

To eliminate this, Onek said that the cabinet had adopted a strategy that will see many people evacuated from swamps and other areas which are regarded as environmentally protected areas. You can listen to this space on Assessing Government’s Response to Seasonal Flooding in Uganda below: https://soundcloud.com/wizarts2070/assessing-the-govt-response-to

Wizarts Spaces are hosted on Thursday every week by Wizarts Foundation: a non-profit media NGO with the Vision and Mission to transform media and impact communities by opening windows of knowledge.

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