Get ahead of disasters now

The country has suffered several flood disasters since the start of the rains this season. According to the Office of the Prime Minister, more than 1,000 people were displaced in Mbale alone, after the torrential rains in which several rivers burst their banks and wreaked destruction on the area, causing loss of lives and property last month.

In Kasese, not for the first time, heavy rains caused mudslides that swept away homesteads and left hundreds displaced at the start of this month. The disaster was replicated in the neighbouring district of Bundibugyo.

Countrywide, roads and bridges have been flooded and put out of service due to heavy rain, including flood waters that covered more than 600 metres from the Pakwach Bridge to Tangi River, blocking the Pakwach-Olwiyo-Karuma road at the start of September this year.

The extent of devastation wrought by floods and mudslides has been growing from year to year. 

This year’s rains alone have left untold suffering, displacement, and disruption of livelihoods in the affected areas; children unable to go to school when roads are washed away and traders stranded with their goods when bridges are flooded, among other effects.

Some of the affected people and areas are yet to receive the requisite assistance and still reside perilously close to the disaster-prone areas where their homes used to be.

As the government moves to provide relief and reconstruction in affected areas, attention should be given to long-term resolution of the causes of these all too frequent disasters. It is very costly both to the individuals and the public purse to respond to disasters, provide relief, and resettle victims of disaster.

This is why we should seriously examine and consider measures to address the conditions that make some areas particularly prone to disasters.

Looking at past trends, it is clear where the fault lines are located and this should be the starting point to establish warning systems, especially before major changes in weather patterns. Dedicating resources and efforts to get ahead of the floods and mudslides before the rains would cut back on the cost to human life and property.

The current patterns should not be allowed to continue unchecked or we risk disasters on a greater scale in future.


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