Sunday February 16 2014

FROM OVER THE SEAS: Floods are upon us

By Jan Ajwang

The experts have said it is one of the ‘wettest winters’ in many years. It is raining almost everyday amidst very low temperatures and extremely strong winds. Sometimes I think I just have to stand at my door step and the wind will just carry me into my lecture room. This reminded me of those childhood stories of strong winds… mbu a ghost, an angel or a ‘night dancer’ has passed. Just that would mean that I am in a place where ghosts, angels or night dancers are constantly in a competitive race.

Besides keeping warm, one must keep watch of the weather alerts because a bright sunny day could end with a city under water as it has since happened in parts of the UK. Houses have been ruined, several people have been evacuated, and work and businesses have come to a standstill in some of the worst hit areas.

This week the Thames River joined in the fray bursting its banks into homes and businesses further compounding the situation. One flood victim told the BBC that it was like going back to the Dark Ages. Yes think all those floods you have heard of or experienced and their effects and you have a fair picture of how life used to be in the dark ages.

I could see from the television footage that some people with resilience made efforts to beat the odds with boats or kayaks to make emergency movements. In an absurd situation these are some of the images that come with either hope or a strong survival instinct. Just imagine waking up to a bad flood in a Kampala suburb and if you must, use a boat to work or to the store.

Efforts are being done to respond to the victims’ plight. Yet, politicians continue to point fingers at each other and the technocrats on who is responsible for the inadequate preparedness or the floods for that matter. This is exactly the way our politicians always find or force a party angle to an absurd situation.

One recommendation that struck was of a politician who called on the government divert its aid budget to fix the problem. I still don’t know what to make of it but probably it wouldn’t make any difference to some of the real beneficiaries because as we have come to know, it often never reaches its destination.