‘Nothing left’: Survivors of distressing Dokolo floods seek relief

This picture taken on May 28, 2024 shows a family displaced by floods at a settlement at Kachung Junior School in Dokolo District. PHOTO/BILL OKETCH

What you need to know:

  • Over 15, 000 families are believed to have been affected by the flooding. 
  • The affected families are facing acute food insecurity.

Ketty Acio, 46, a resident of Akwota ‘A’ Village, Agwata Sub-county in Dokolo District, never imagined that her home would someday become part of Lake Kwania.

The mother, who derives her livelihood from farming, fled her home in Kachung Parish after Lake Kwania flooded in October 2023.

Due to severe flooding triggered by the rising water levels on the lake, Acio’s backyard is no longer hers. The waterbody has now become part of their backyard. 

Families in Agwata Town Council, Kwera, Adeknino, Agwata, Okwongodul and Adok sub-counties suffered through a prolonged dry spell in recent years, and already had limited access to food, income, and other resources to survive before the floods.

“Now, the floods have worsened the situation, making health services, schools, and markets difficult to reach,” local authorities said on Wednesday.

Acio’s family is among more than 200 households devastated by the floods in Kachung Parish alone.

Her family is among 70 households currently living at a temporary settlement at Kachung Junior School, about five kilometers away from her shattered home.

“After water from Lake Kwania visited our homes and started causing damage to houses and crops, we went to Kachung Junior School and pleaded with the school administration to allow us to temporarily settle within the school,” Acio explained.

At the settlement, there is only one latrine serving the displaced population, teaching and non-teaching staff.

“We don’t have food here at the settlement, we lack bedsheets and we don’t have money for paying medical bills in case our loved one falls sick,” Acio noted as she appealed for relief.

Before the floods, Acio and her neighbours would return from the garden in the morning and quickly prepare tea or porridge and serve their family members. Between 1 pm and 2 pm, children would again have lunch and also enjoy an evening meal. 

“We are now eating one meal a day. Before water followed us to our backyard, our children were very healthy but now you can see they look malnourished and they have no clothes to put on, and there are no good beddings,” she observed.

More flood victims that share in Acio’s plight now survive on handouts from friends, relatives and well-wishers even as their gardens and homes have now become part of lakes Kwania and Kyoga.

As a result, the affected households are facing acute food insecurity.

“God has blessed me with 10 children but I fear they may all drop out of school because I am failing to buy them uniforms to study at the government-aided Kachung Primary School,” Acio added.

Pius Obwolo, 35, another displaced person said: “Sometimes we trek over 7kms to cultivate people’s gardens at Agwata Forest Reserve for either money or in exchange for food.”

Obwolo’s wife Evelyn Akullo, 28, says five of their children are no longer going to school because of their inability to pay school fees.

“Our first born, Joan Akello, is staying with a relative and now studying at Amuda Primary School in Agwata Sub-county but the rest of the five children are at home,” Akullo told Monitor on Tuesday.

Adok Sub-county resident Dr Rosemary Alwoc Ogwal emphasized that the Dokolo flood situation has reached a “crisis point.”

“Beyond emergency response, the flood disaster also highlights the need for longer-term efforts to reduce vulnerability and build resilience against such extreme weather events in the future,” she remarked.