Residents ask govt to build barriers to control floods

Tuesday December 10 2019

Floods. A taxi wades through a flooded road at

Floods. A taxi wades through a flooded road at Doho Trading Centre, Mazimasa Sub-county on Mbale-Butaleja road on Wednesday. PHOTO BY YAHUDU KITUNZI 


Local leaders and residents in Butaleja District have asked government to construct embankments along the banks of River Manafwa in order to control flooding in the area.
Last week, about 12,000 residents were displaced by floods triggered by heavy rain and are now living in dire conditions.
The displaced have since sought refuge at Bugombe Primary School and Bugombe Pentecostal Church in Masulula B Village, Himutu Sub-county.
The most affected sub-counties were Himutu and Mazimasa, where houses were submerged, and crops such as rice, potatoes, cassava, beans and livestock, destroyed.
However, the local leaders said the government should consider constructing embankments on the river to save them from misery whenever it rains.
“The government should build embankments to protect us who are living in low-lying areas because we have suffered enough due to floods,” the chairperson of Masulula B Village in Himutu Sub-county, Mr Mesulamu Wabaye, said.
Mr Wabaye said the embankments will also stabilise the river banks and improve on agricultural productivity.
Other rivers that burst their banks due to heavy rains in Bugisu Sub-region include Tsutsu, Manafwa, Soloko, and Nabuyonga.
“The government should learn from other countries that have built embankments on the rivers, which are strong enough to contain the raging waters, so its citizens do not suffer like we are suffering here,” he said.
The chairperson of Himutu Sub-county, Mr Fabiano Higenyi, said they have requested government to put the embankments on river but in vain.
“The only way to save our people is to put embankments on this river but not supplying relief food,” Mr Higenyi said.
Mr James Were, an agribusiness consultant, however, explained that Butaleja will continue to suffer from flooding because it is in a lowland.
“The water comes downstream from the mountains and it converges in Butaleja, which is a lowland. If we cannot control the water upstream before it reaches Butaleja, we shall see no end to these floods,” Mr Were said.
He said the district can also undertake mitigating measures such as tree planting along the banks of the river, among others.
“The government had a good proposal of building a dam in Bugisu to help manage the flow of water but some politicians opposed it, which was wrong,” he said.
Mr Higenyi Kemba, an environmentalist, said residents should plant bamboo on either side of the river banks all the way from Bugisu in order to control flooding.
“The bamboo will stop the silting. When this is done, the deposits already in the river can then be removed and we shall have solved the problem,” he said.
The district senior environmental officer, Ms Lamula Were, however, blamed continuous floods on encroachment on the river banks.
She said residential houses have been built and other activities, including farming and stone quarrying, are being carried out along the river banks.
“River Manafwa must have a breathing space. People must stop digging up to the river banks because this is one of the reasons for the flooding,” she said.
In Manafwa District, residents are also living in fear after reports of fresh cracks which have been cited in parishes of Bumukari, Butuwa, Bukimanayi and Bunamungoma in Kaato Sub-county.
Ms Allen Khalayi, one of the resident, appealed to government to come to their rescue.
“We pray that government gets serious and relocate us to a safe place before we die, “Ms Khalayi, said.