Cabinet approves Shs5.5b to battle rising water levels

Islanders and other travellers walk through a flooded ferry pier at Bugoma in the island district of Kalangala to board MV Pearl, one of the ferries connecting to the mainland in Masaka District,  on May 8, 2024. PHOTO/DAVID SEKAYINGA 

What you need to know:

  • Currently, the government has initiated the controlled release of water in Jinja to stabilise  Lake Victoria’s shoreline and downstream areas. 

Cabinet has endorsed the allocation of Shs5.5 billion to support immediate measures addressing the rising water levels in the country’s water bodies.

Speaking at the media centre on May 14, the Minister of Water and Environment, Mr Sam Cheptoris, highlighted that Lake Victoria had reached its highest recorded level in the country’s history at 13.66 metres and urged the public to prepare for potential devastation.

A resident carries items from a house that was submerged  near Lake Kwania in Okwongodul Sub-county, Dokolo District, on April 18. PHOTO/BILL OKETCH

He further disclosed that he presented the ministry’s budget proposal to the Cabinet, aiming to implement interim measures aimed at safeguarding lives and infrastructure from potential damage caused by flooding.

Travellers wade through a flooded section of Kasawo - Zirobwe Road that connects Luweero to Mukono District at Lwajali Swamp, which burst its banks. PHOTO/ JESSICA SABANO    

“Technical experts are currently conducting assessments across the country to identify areas at high risk of flooding, particularly focusing on regions with health centres, schools, and dense populations,” Mr Cheptoris said.

Residents of Ntimba Village in Galilaaya Sub-county, Kayunga District, stand near a borehole, which was submerged in April 2024. PHOTO/FRED MUZAALE  

He said the allocated funds will be used to construct embankments around key infrastructure to prevent flooding and to improve river drainage systems to enhance their capacity to handle increased water flow.

Kigungu Catholic Church in Entebbe Municipality, Wakiso District, on the shores of Lake Victoria was submerged on May 9, 2024. PHOTO/ EVE MUGANGA         

Currently, the government has initiated the controlled release of water in Jinja to stabilise  Lake Victoria’s shoreline and downstream areas. 

Dr Barirega Akankwasah, the Executive Director of the National Environmental Management Authority, cautioned that increased water release may exacerbate flooding downstream, affecting lakes such as Kyoga. 

Residents of Kishekyera Village inspect Kishekyera- Rubira foot bridge in Kyanamira Sub-county, Kabale District, that was submerged in May 2024. PHOTO/ROBERT MUHEREZA   

He has also urged residents on lake shores to evacuate rather than wait for conditions to worsen like it has been witnessed in the neighbouring countries such as Kenya.

Attributing the rising water levels to climate change and increased flooding in neighbouring countries like Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi, Mr Cheptoris emphasised the need to take precautionary measures.

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In Kenya, local authorities warned that more than 285,000 lives have been affected so far, with more than 200 reported deaths.

In Burundi, more than 180,000 people were impacted. Additionally, dozens of Rwandans have been killed or injured due to the rains and floods.

In Uganda, more than 10,000 people have been displaced in various parts of the country after floods wreaked havoc on the shoreline of Lake Victoria and the surrounding areas. The floods have since submerged homes.