Bududa District again registered three mudslides in early June that hit Buwali Sub-county in the areas of Buna Mwamba North, Buna Mwamba Main and Buna Mwamba South resulting in deaths, injuries and destruction of property, including crops, houses and livestock.
According to the Uganda Red Cross’s Report 2019, 50 people went missing and 150 houses were destroyed by gushing water in the foothills of Mt Elgon after rain pounded the area for days. A lot can be done to help the more than 100,000 shocked and helpless people that live precariously on the slopes of Mt Elgon.
Bududa residents are raising their voices to the government to use compensatory approach to resettle them because they believe it is a faster and efficient. The residents also believe that not all slopes of Mt Elgon are prone to mudslides as government officials and local leaders claim. Besides, the residents are also lament over being taken to dry places where farming is not viable basing on the Kiryandongo Districts’ experience where land was not viable. Government ought to relocate residents of Bududa before a similar catastrophe occurs again.
It is a report from the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees where the Commissioner, Mr Martin Owor, says government is still using the older approach of rescuing the victims. A lot should have been done earlier given that it has been more than two decades since Bududa District started experiencing landslides. More so, government should put emphasis on relocating people to productive land that will encourage them to grow enough food as well as motivate them to cope easily without regrets.
The only approach to mitigate disaster effects such as loss of lives, injuries and destruction of property is by equipping our people with knowledge and sensitising them on disaster preparedness. Life is unpredictable and uncertain. Therefore, government should not wait for a tragedy to occur before taking action. Government should also engage Bududa residents on how they can escape such a disaster.
With technological advancement, presence of meteorological data and scientists, it is possible for Uganda to predict natural disasters. With good management and appropriation of taxes, residents would guarantee Bududa residents better disaster responses so as to mitigate disastrous outcomes.
The fear of residents that their land might be grabbed by government and the fear of being tormented by the indigenous locals in the new places has made some of the Bududa people not to vacate. This has been due to the mistrust between government and Bududa residents arising from 2018 when some people were promised to be relocated. However, due to government’s slow response to earlier mudslides to provide alternative housing, people seem to doubt government commitment.
Besides, lack of land titles, impassable roads and rising population in the new areas have made their lives hard forcing them not to access better services such as education, health, markets, etc. The current standoff between the Bududa District leadership and the government on relocation and resettlement of communities living on the slopes of Mt Elgon, is as a result of various relief support sent to the area.
The government should use the available meteorological data, plant trees, sensitise residents of Bududa and other disaster-prone areas about the dangers of mudsldes.