Cracks in Bududa send tremors among locals

President Museveni tours some of the areas that were affected by the landslides. PPU photo

What you need to know:

  • The warning follows cracks on the land, which runs through several villages in Bubito Sub-county.
  • Early this month, the leaders from Bugisu informed President Museveni about the new crack during a meeting at State Lodge in Kapchorwa Town.

Environmental experts and local leaders in Bududa District in Bugisu Sub-region have warned of a fresh landslide due to rampant environmental degradation.

The warning follows cracks on the land, which runs through several villages in Bubito Sub-county.

Early this month, the leaders from Bugisu informed President Museveni about the new crack during a meeting at State Lodge in Kapchorwa Town.

Mr Fred Wamono, the chairperson of Munyende, one of the affected villages, said whenever it rains heavily, the locals run to shelter themselves in the neighbouring churches and schools.

Ms Joyce Khamuka, a farmer and a resident of Bushika Parish, said they are sitting on a time bomb. He asked the government to relocate them to safer places.

Local leaders say human activities such as sand mining, farming and settlement have also led to the drying up of most streams such as Sume, Nabweya, Nalondo and River Manafwa.

Mr Stephen Kimaswa, a resident of Bududa Town Council, said they are facing water shortage.

“Our people have planted eucalyptus trees on the streams. The trees drain water and reduce the water flow,” said.

The chairperson of Bududa District, Mr Milton Kamoti, said they have assessed and found that more than 200 homes are affected.

“We have asked the government to relocate the affected families, but to date, nothing has been done,” he said.

The government started the relocation and resettlement of landslide victims to Bunambutye in 2019 after the Office of the Prime Minister bought more than 2,800 acres of land in 2013.

About 300 families have so far been resettled in the camp in three phases, which include May 2019, February 2020 and February 2022.

Prof Frank Muganga, a researcher at Makerere University in the department of geography, said the causes of cracks vary from human to natural factors.

“We have been doing a lot of research and we found that some areas on Mt Elgon have concave slopes which are weak and cannot hold water yet this area receives a lot of rainfall. So when it rains, it circulates and causes cracks leading to landslides,” he said.

Researchers say improper farming practices have led to increasing frequency of soil erosion, shrinking forest reserve as well as floods in the low lying areas surrounding the mountains.

Prof Muganga said there is a need to support the communities to build resilience through uplifting their livelihoods inorder to preserve the environment.

Dr Theo Van Der Sluis, the project leader of Natura 2000 biogeographical process from Wageningen University, said persistent landslides are a result of locals encroaching on the steeper areas of the land for farming and settlement.

“Farmers should practice sustainable land use instead of expanding their existing farms to the steep slopes that spark occurrence of cracks, which leads to landslides,” she said.

Mr Christopher Kyeswa, the executive director of Africa 2000 Network Uganda, said the long term solution for landslides is planting indigenous trees and educating people on better farming methods.

Ms Mary Gorretti Kitutu, the minister of Karamoja Affairs, said: “We need to push for urbanisation so that we conserve Mt Elgon to prevent of landslides.”

Previous landslides

In June 2019, a landslide occurred in Buwali Sub-county, leaving five people dead and more than 400 displaced in Bududa. In October 2018, 42 people were reportedly killed and more than 500 people displaced in Suume Village in Bukalasi Sub-county in Bududa. In August 2017, landslides hit Bufupa Parish in Sironko District, killing seven people and displacing hundreds. In June 2012, another landslide occurred in Namaga and Bunakasala villages in Bumwalukani Sub-county in Bududa, leaving about 450 people dead and property destroyed.

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