Thursday March 31 2011

Deepening Mount Elgon cracks worry local leaders

Deepening Mount Elgon cracks worry local leaders

WASTED: Dr Kitutu examines soil around a crack on the slope of Mt Elgon. PHOTO BY DAVID MAFABI 

By David Mafabi

Leaders in the Mbale sub-region have expressed concern over delay by the government to resettle hundreds of families still living in disaster-prone areas on the slopes of Mt. Elgon.

The leaders say this inaction could wind up to a tragic end.

Manafwa RDC Henry Nalyanya says government should give the affected people the 1,260 acres of land on Mt. Elgon National Park for settlement.

Mr Nalyanya said the people at Namisindwa, Bumbo, Buwabwala and Tsekululu are demanding about 1,260 acres of land from the park, which they claim is their cradle amid the looming danger of landslides.

Lives at risk
Cracks were discovered at the foot of Mt. Elgon last year, and have since deepened and widened, from 10cm last year to about 30cm this year.

The 40-kilometre cracks are threatening about 8,000 people as they wind through eight sub-counties in Bududa, Mbale, Sironko and ending at the border with Kenya in Bukwo District.
Mt. Elgon conservation manager Adonia Bintorwa said a survey by UWA indicates that the encroachment has soared to about 20,000 acres as high as where altitude plants called Lubelia are located.

“The vegetation on top has been cut down such that there is no soil cover. I see another landslide in-waiting. We don’t want to see people die. People used the last election bonanza to go past the 1993 boundary up to the cliff close to the bamboo zone, which makes it even more dangerous,” said Mr Bintorwa.

Nema environment system specialist, Mary Gorretti Kitutu, said small mud flows can be observed on the slopes of the mountain with many water openings, an indication that the rocks are under tension.