EnvironmentFeaturesGeneralGovernanceInvestigativeThe Light Magazine

The Pain of Rain

Locals in the east Kyoga [Teso] sub region are left with nowhere to run after floods hit the locality.

A woman standing infront of her flooded house recently in Kapelebyong Sub County, Kapelebyong district.

A few weeks ago, the talk in the East Kyoga part of Teso sub region was lamentation on how severe the prolonged dry season was. Cases of famine were registered all over the sub region, with most people calling upon government for rescue with relief aid.

Locals turned to Churches to pray day in- day out asking for God’s mercy to return the rains. Little did most of the affected people knew that the sudden change in the weather pattern, was as a result of the increased harm which is posed to environment by human activities such as, increased cutting down of trees which help in rainfall formation and wind breaking, alarming levels of swamp and wetlands encroachment in the name of urbanization and swampland farming, among others.

Today, it is a different story told in the same area. The return of rains has yet again caused another alarm, which is more less similar to the cries raised during the hot dry season.

In Amuria district, roads are in dire state following the breakout of floods in the Teso sub region, in the eastern part of Uganda.

Floods in the sub region are as a result of continued rains, which has as well greatly affected a few crops that survived the prolonged hot and dry season.

By 30th October, 2019, the road from Amuria district headquarters to Orungo county, cannot be used for the past three weeks. Mortorcycles and bicycles have to use access shortcuts that have been created at other people’s gardens.

Recently, a Police Car Reg. number UP 5566 which belongs to Amuria Central Police Station was trapped in the muddy road for two days, a situation which paralised the service of that Police force in the district.

A police truck for Amuria CPS stuck along Amuria-Orungo road.

Also of recent, a truck that belongs to Uganda Electricity Company Limited got stuch along the same road at it tried to reach Orungo county to do electric connection service.

Leaders in the district cannot cross to the sub counties of Ogolai, Orungo, Akeriau and Morungatuny because their vehicle cannot pass through the damaged roads. The other roads affected by the floods in Amuria district include the one from Achuna, Orungo to Obalanga sub counties, that connects to Abim district in the east and Otuke district in the north.

Soroti district is not left out. The major road that connects Soroti, Amuria to Abim districts is cut out by the floods.

These circumstances have posed effects to the livelihoods, ranging from transport, to hunger. For the case of transport, there has been a registered increase in transport fares from the major route [Soroti-Amuria-Abim-Kotido].

In Amuria district, James Peter Obirai, a boda-boda rider says that they have raised the transport charges, from Amuria to Orungo from sh8,000 to sh15,000.

David Ewayu, the district councilor for Kuju sub county in Amuria district says the situation of the roads has led to increased cases of road accidents in the district.

“Government should hurry and rescue the situation of the roads in the districts because this has affected business and service delivery in the district,” he said.

However, the LCV Chairman for Amuria district, who also doubles as the Chairperson for Lokere Catchment Management Zone, a water resource management, under Ministry of Water and Environment, said that floods has greatly affected supervision of ongoing government projects in the district and sub region as a whole.

“We have tried to inform UNRA that the roads have been greatly damaged but is seems their ears are blocked. What will now happen is that we shall allow people to express their concerns by demonstration,” complained Okitoi.

Health Sector Affected

A road connecting Magoro sub county to Ngariam sub county flooded recently.

In Katakwi district, the government program on immunization of children against Measels-Rubella and Polio was greatly affected after the water flooded roads in all the six sub counties in the district.
The sub counties that were hard to access by health workers include; Okore, Guyaguya, Okulonyo, Ongongoja, Magoro and Palam. Katakwi district is composed of 20 sub counties and town councils.

The District Health Offiecr- Katakwi, Simon Amali confirmed that by Saturday 19th October, 2019, health workers could not reach the named sub counties by the provided means of transport, and even if they walked through the flooded roads, the water levels reached the waist.

“In some places such as Angisa Parish where there were about 200 children, we had to call for emergency funds to look for a boat to sail across and in some places, we had to hire locals to carry the vaccines on their heads and we had to pay them to do that,” said Amali.

Amali said that government had not provided a budget for disasters such as the floods they encountered, but they had to look for ways to counter it.

However, Katakwi district managed to vaccinate 86,017 [108%] against Measles-Rubella, out of the estimated figure of 79,828. Also, out of the estimated 38,057 children that the district has estimated to receive vaccine against Polio, 35,714 [93%] were vaccinated.

The Ministry of Health had announced for a countrywide vaccination of children under 15 years against Measels-Rubella and Polio diseases.

Food Security

A garden of potatoes recently damaged by heavy rains in Mukongoro sub county, Kumi district.

In Kumi district, residents in Alukat village, Mukongoro sub county were left stranded when heavy storms damaged crops from over 1,000 gardens.

Almost on daily basis, it rains for an average of 1-2 hours and crops that survived the long droughts such as cassava, maize, sweet potatoes, sorghum, green grams, millet were all mashed down by the rains.

Isaac Ogwang, the LCI Vice Chairperson for Akulet village said that it usually begins raining at about 5:00 pm and the water is accompanied by heavy winds.

“Famine has already hit us in this village, we have never witnessed this kind of disaster before apart from only floods, government should rescue us,” said Ogwang.

Max Anyuli, one of the farmers whose crops were damages said that, government should hurry to rescue Alukat village or else, death has reached to them in the name of famine.

“We request that even if we are given seedlings for short term maturity crops because even what we had in the stores, we already sold for sending our children to school,” said Anyuli.

Recently, the Commissioner of Parliament, Peter Ogwang, who is also the Member of Parliament for Usuk County went to assess the level of the impact of floods in the communities.

Like others, the team he was moving with got stuck in one of the roads in Usuk County, Katakwi district.

Effect on Education

Pupils studying under a tree after their classroom was blown off by heavy storms recently.

Pupils who were sitting for the Primary Leaving examinations (PLE) in Katakwi district were relocated from schools where they were supposed to sit exams from to other schools that were not affected.

A total of 189 candidates from 16 schools across the district were affected after floods blocked the roads for access by UNEB examiners and some of the schools had their roofs blown off by heavy storms.

A list of schools that were affected by floods during time for PLE 2019.

The Woman Member of Parliament for Katakwi district, Violet Akurut confirmed the gradual effect of climate change in the district, especially in the sector of education.

Katakwi district Woman MP- Viola Akurut moving with locals to assess the extent of the impact of floods in the district. PHOTO BY: NOAH OMUYA.

While delivering scholastic items to the candidates in the district, Akurut promised that she would return the report about her assessment to Parliament and the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to call for immediate government intervention.
What has government done?

Looking at the wanting condition in the affected areas, it is unfortunate to note that government has only done little, as compared to what is expected.

After the leaders delivered a report, OPM wrote to The Chief Administrative Officer of Katakwi notifying him of government’s delivery of 600 bags of 50kgs of rice for distribution to floods threatened families in the district.
Here read the letter from OPM.

Ref: DM/161/01
29th October 2019
The Chief Administrative Officer Katakwi District Katakwi
Reference is made to my letter of even reference dated 28th October 2019 in regard to delivery of 20 bales (360 pcs) of blankets, 100 pieces of jerricans, 30 ctns (240pcs) of soap, 100 buckets, 100 Pcs of spades, 20 bales (500 pcs) of sleeping-mats and 5 roles of polythene sheeting (4 x50 metres).
The Office of the Prime Minister is now making delivery of 600 bags of 50kgs of rice in addition to the above non-food items for the vulnerable persons affected by floods in the district.
This consignment of emergency relief food just like the non-food commodities is not for general distribution to everybody. Using the District Disaster Management Committee (DDMC) together with representatives of the RDC and DISO, you are required, to identify and register only households most vulnerable, especially those headed by vulnerable widows, the sick, the old, child-headed households, households headed by persons living-with-HIV AIDS and vulnerable households headed by persons-living-with-disability.
The LCV Chairperson and Area Members of Parliament must be kept in the know of the relief commodities distribution plan and of the targeted vulnerable households. You are requested to use the District Local Government Tippers and Pickups to transport the allocations upto the nearest point were the targeted floods
PLOT 9-11 APOLLO KAGGWA ROAD. P.O. BOX 341, KAMPALA, UGANDA TELEPHONES: General Line 0417 770500, Web: www.opm.go.ug, E-mail: ps@opm.go.ug
threatened communities can pick their shares without walking for many kilometres.
At the final distribution points, you must ensure representatives of the following authorities are present for purposes of accountability and transparency; the LC 1 Chairperson, Representative of the RDC and Representative of the DISO.
You are required to submit accountability in the attached forms to the Office of the Prime Minister within two weeks of the date of this letter.
Cc: Rt. Hon Prime Minister
Hon Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development
Hon Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees
Hon Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees
All Members of Parliament Katakwi
Permanent Secretary/Secretary to Treasury, MFPED.
The LCV Chairman, Katakwi Resident District Commissioner
Katakwi District Internal Security Officer,
Katakwi District Police Commander,
Katakwi Commissioner Customs URA

Effect Countrywide

Up to a tune of 24 districts in Uganda have been severely affected by floods and government through OPM have delivered some relief items for the affected communities.

Recently, the Uganda National Meteorological Authority warned of in significant increase in rainfall, over most parts of the country due to the rain belt being over the country.

According to the communication, this is attributed to the moist winds blowing from the Indian Ocean and the Congo forests.

The wet conditions being realized are peak rains of the September, October, November and December (SOND) rain fall season 2019.
Heavy rains with lightning and thunder are expected to prevail over most parts of the country, expected to cause flooding especially in the urban areas and low lying areas, and mudslides in the mountainous areas.
The authority disclosed that the most areas that are most likely to be greatly affected included Southern and Western regions of the country, especially Kigezi highlands and Rwenzori Mountain ranges; parts of Central region especially around Lake Victoria, and the Eastern parts of the Country especially Mountain Elgon slopes.
As a means of awareness, a notice signed by Paul Isabirye, the Executive Director of the Authority, signified that there would be poor visibility resulting from heavy rain conditions likely to pose danger to motorists. All motorists and pedestrians were encouraged to take utmost care to minimize accidents that would result from such weather conditions.
The notice also warned that weak bridges were most likely to be washed away and road users were advised to be vigilant. On the other hand, lake users were advised to follow UNMAM Marine forecast updates for fishing, water transport and small aircraft activities.

Thepublic was further urged to avoid taking shelter under trees during rainfall in order to minimize exposure to lightning strikes.

Also read:

Reaping from Harm

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Noah Omuya

Noah Omuya is the founder and CEO of Aica Media and a two time winner of the Media Challenge Awards (The best feature story writer- 2018 and the best Climate Change Photography Award- 2019). He has a bachelors degree in Mass Communication from Kampala International University. He is also an alumni for; British Council Future News Worldwide Fellowship- 2020, Climate Tracker Energy Reporting Fellowship- 2020, InfoNile- Code for Africa Data Journalism Fellowship- 2020, the Media Challenge Fellowship, 2019 and British Council East Africa and Africa Writers Trust Master Class in Creative Writing- 2019. Omuya has specialized training in writing, strategic and multimedia communication, mainstream and online journalism, broadcast media and youth participatory radio, content development, and public relations. He is very much interested in sustainable development communication.

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