Life will never be the same for Bugimwera village. A week ago, mudslides covered its houses, leaving two victims dead and some 300 displaced. Now up to 3,000 residents of this Bumasifwa sub-county in the Sironko district of eastern Uganda face possible resettlement. Our local correspondent surveys the damage.
By Joseph Wanzusi, Bumasifwa
Francis Madanda comes from one of the over 35 homesteads displaced by the landslides. He said he was lucky to survive being buried alive because the mudslide happened during daytime after heavy rains that lasted over four hours.
“The survivors managed to run to safety when they saw mudslides rolling down the hills,” Madanda said after getting non-food relief items from the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS). “Within hours, [places] where houses once stood were covered with mud.”
Earlier this year, the area located on the slopes of Mount Elgon had suffered a prolonged drought. Yet since April, torrential rains have pounded the hilly terrain, causing riverbanks to burst, damaging bridges and destroying food gardens.
Madanda noted that the three bridges over Mahapa River, which connect Bumasifwa sub-county to the rest of the district, are badly damaged, making travel to and from the area a nightmare.
Appeals for aid
District official John Wetaka said the district lacks the capacity to handle the disaster. Appeals have been made to the central government and aid agencies, requesting relief items, including foodstuffs for the displaced families.
Wetaka said the district may be forced to close down Gabende Primary School and relocate its student body of 200 to other schools. Still-falling rains make the area prone to more landslides.
According to Wetaka, over 3,000 people from 500 households may need to be resettled while programmes on land management that include afforestation are carried out in the community.
Bumasobo parish chief Apollo Bubolo Mugonyi said several of the residents displaced by the landslide are willing to be relocated to safer places outside the sub-county. He reported that the registration process for those ready to move is underway.