Floods, landslides kill over 10 people in Eastern Uganda

Locals at a home that was destroyed by landslides killing a woman and her children in Kapchorwa District, Sebei Sub-region, July 31, 2022. PHOTO/MUSAU ALFRED TUNDE/KAPCHORWA SPORTS OFFICER

What you need to know:

  • The Sunday floods left people displaced and property worth millions of shillings destroyed.

At least 10 people have reportedly died after heavy rain triggered flooding and landslides in Bugisu and Sebei sub-regions.

Eight bodies had so far been recovered by press time yesterday. The rain started at 11pm on Saturday until 8am yesterday.

The floods ravaged several areas in Mbale city, washing away some homes, vehicles, crops and damaging bridges.

In Sebei, a landslide occurred in Kapsinda Sub-county, Kapchorwa District, killing a mother and two of her children. Other victims were in critical condition at Kapchorwa Hospital.

The Faithful conduct prayers outside Healing Power Restoration Church opposite Industrial Park in Mbale. The house of God was flooded. PHOTO/COURTESY

In Mbale City, locals were yesterday morning fleeing from the raging waters as River Nabuyonga and Namatala burst the banks.

The floods also submerged roads, including Mbale- Soroti, Mbale-Tororo and Mbale–Tirinyi, paralysing traffic on the usually busy routes.

The most affected areas in Mbale City were the wards of Nabuyonga, Nkoma and Namakwekwe in Northern City Division and Namatala in Industrial City Division.

Mr Vinikhet Manana, a journalist working for BCU, a radio station in Mbale, and a resident of Kampala road, one of the areas affected by floods, said they had sleepless nights.

“The rain started at 11pm on Saturday until Sunday morning. We never slept, especially our neighbours in the lower part because it started flooding at midnight,” he said.

Mbale Industrial Park, Livingstone University, Resort Hotel, and Shekinah Glory Christian International School, Mbale were also submerged, but there were no fatalities reported by press time.

Mr Alex Nabude, one of the survivors, told Monitor that he saw a car that was washed away at Nabuyonga Bridge at about 5.30am yesterday.

“I was riding to town, but when I reached there [bridge], I found out that it had been submerged and I got afraid to cross it. I stood for some minutes and then a car came from one of the sides and the driver tried to maneuver, but it was washed away. I am sure he did not survive,” he said.

Preliminary information from eyewitnesses indicate that two cars were washed away at Mbale-Tororo road and the other at Mbale-Soroti road.

Mr Amir Mwesa, a taxi driver on Mbale-Tororo road, said a boda boda rider carrying two people, including a UPDF officer, were also hit by floods at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) check point on Mbale-Tororo road.

“Whenever it rains, this place floods, but this time, the floods were intense,” he said.

Among the deceased, one body was recovered from Maluku, and another in Half-London in Industrial City Division. Two other bodies were recovered from a stream behind Oxford High School and the other at URA check point.

Maj Isaac Oware, the UPDF 3rd Division spokesperson, said among the deceased was a UPDF officer, Sam Chemandwa.

“It is true Pte Sam Chemandwa drowned in the water and died. We have recovered the body and it is in Bugema barracks,” Maj Oware said. 
The deceased was attached to UPDF headquarters in Kampala.

The Elgon region Police Spokesperson, Mr Rogers Taitika, told Monitor that they had so far recovered four bodies. 

The floods also triggered muslides, which cut off Nkokonjeru–Wanale road in Wanale Sub-county. 
The chairperson of Mbale,  Mr Muhammad Mafabi, said the damage is overwhelming. 
“The roads have been cut off and people have been displaced. Our teams will soon come up with the actual figures of the damage,” he said. Mr Mafabi said the floods were a sign of extreme climatic effects posed on humanity.

The chairperson of Bulambuli, Ms Annet Nandudu, said there were mudslides and waterlogging in the sub-counties of Bulago, Bukhalu and Bumufuni.
“We have registered mudslides and waterlogging, but we have no fatalities,” Ms Nandudu said.
He added that there were cracks on land in the sub-counties of Bulegeni, Bukhalu, Muyembe, and Nabongo.

Mr Geoffrey Khauka, the former chairperson of Bunambutye Sub-county, said locals were wading through floods yesterday
“Hundreds of families are still stranded after their houses were submerged by flood last night,” he said.

A man helps a lady wade through a flooded section of Industrial Area, Mbale. PHOTO/COURTESY

Mr Twalla Fadil, the MP for Tingey County in Kapchorwa District, said some locals have been displaced and the community is living in fear.

“Three people have died and one is hospitalised,” he said.

The other sub-county, which was heavily affected by floods in Kapchorwa include Kaserem Sub-county. Some houses, coffee plantations, bananas, and trees, were washed away.
Mr Fadil faulted the government for delaying to respond to disaster alerts in the Elgon region.
“We are absurd about the situation in the Elgon region. We don’t know why the government delays responding to the disasters,” he said.

He said there is a need for the government to come up with a comprehensive plan.
The Sipi region police spokesperson, Mr Fred Mark Chesang, said he needed time to find out more details.

In Bududa District, about 100 families in Namarango Village in Bubiita Sub-county were displaced for fear of a looming disaster after their houses developed cracks last month.
Scientists say cracks could grow worse and trigger multiple landslides, especially as the rainy season continues.

Mr Patrick Meru, the councillor representing Bubiita Sub-county, said the government should send experts to examine the cracks.
“This is a serious matter and if it is left unattended to, it will be worse than the 2010 Nametsi landslide that killed hundreds,” Mr Meru said.

Last month, Mr Maximo Twinomuhangi, the team leader of the Kyoga Water Management Zone at the Ministry of Water and Environment, said environmental degradation in the Elgon region poses an impending disaster.

“There is a need to restore the ecosystem through planting vegetation materials, restoring river banks and planting trees,” he said.

Mr Wiberforce Walukano, an environmentalist working with Manafwa Watershed Restoration and Stewardship Project, said: “The only viable solution is for locals to embrace planting of indigenous trees, digging trenches, terracing and embracing better farming practices.” 

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 also hit Bufupa Parish in Sironko District, killing seven people and displacing hundreds. 

Locals climb a hill where landslides occurred in Kapchorwa. PHOTO/ALFRED MUSAU TUNDE

In June 2012, another landslide occurred in Namaga and Bunakasala villages in Bumwalukani Sub-county in Bududa, leaving about 450 people dead.