Picture by: Mulekya Edison, Chairman of Kasese United
Disastrous Flash Flooding
On May 3rd, Kasese Humanist Primary School Project Director Bwambale Robert sent me the following update about torrential rains (it is their rainy season) that have lead to extensive flooding in the western side of the country.
"There has been a serious downpour where it rained for almost ten hours non stop on the Rwenzoris. So far, 6 people are confirmed dead and many have lost their properties in the floods fueled by rivers radiating from Mount Rwenzori glaciers. Its a rainy season here!"
The Nyamwamba river, which runs from the mountains north of Kasese and alongside the school's new land to the southeast, burst its banks on May 1st and has flooded the Kilembe region again more than once since then. It has lead to chaos in the Kilembe valley. It has caused extensive damage to houses and crops and has left many completely homeless.
I truly didn't have a feel for the level of destruction in this part of Uganda until Bwambale sent me a these videos shot by his colleague Mulekya Edison, who is the Chairman of the Kasese United Humanist Association. You can see the water spilling over the roadway, great amounts of soil having been washed away and quite a bit of structural and infrastructural damage.
A quick Google search on kilembe flooding or kasese flooding will give you an idea of the extent of the damage. There have been at least nine confirmed fatalities and approximately 25,000 people have been economically impacted by this event.
KASESE, Uganda, May 9 — 28-years-old Robert Muhangi, a father of two children stared at what is left of his house and he bursts into tears. His home was torn into pieces by boulders during a heavy down pour in Bulembia Division, Kilembe Mines in the western Ugandan district of Kasese. The heavy rains forced River Nyamwamba to burst its banks breaking up homes, shops, washing way bridges and roads among others.
Muhangi was not alone; he was part of the 25,000 people who have been affected by the flash floods in the district that experts have described as the worst natural catastrophe Uganda has ever faced in terms of physical destruction of property.
Government statistics indicated that nine people have been killed and 25,000 others made homeless by the floods that started on May 1.
Even the Kilembe hospital has been seriously damaged and is now without any electicity, all the patients had to be transferred and a recently acquired X-Ray machine has been destroyed.
Unprecedented Destruction And The Threat of Cholera
Picture by: Mulekya Edison, Chairman of Kasese
United Humanist Association
Bwambale wrote me back a couple of days later.
The situation here in Kasese Town is slowly returning to calm starting from today but in the last days floods has been the story. For the last six days we have not seen the sun in the sky. The conditions have been rain everywhere throughout the district causing lots of havoc like sweeping of crops in farmlands, loss of people household properties like domestic animals, birds, furnitures and loss of lives.
Very many people in the affected areas are now being put into camps and relief organizations are trying to bring in help.
Some bridges connecting townships have broken down, especially those in Kyarumba, Kisinga and some in Kilembe. Right now a bridge along the Kasese-Fortportal highway on Mobuku River now shows cracking and big vehicles like trailers have been denied access into Kasese Town.
It is a real disaster and there are fears of outbreaks of cholera in the camps and Kasese areas, as dirt is now everywhere. However civil society organizations are coming in to help the situation.
My family is okay and we were not affected at all by the floods but we feel touched by the suffering of the people. I have visited Kilembe three times since the incident and things are really bad there. I will send you a couple of snaps and videos of the mess.
Our KHPS land is okay and was not affected at all. Instead there was a deposit of sand on our side near the river and this morning I contracted a lorry to ferry10 trips of sand onto the site for a small fee. There is lots of sand there that I am trying to gather and its a golden opportunity as we need it for the 2014 construction project.
How You Can Help!
|(image source: Ugandan Red Cross)|
Several relief organizations are beginning to swing into action.
The Ugandan Red Cross seems to be playing an early and leading role. Bwambale himself has informed me that he's seen them in action already.
Here's an update from the Ugandan Red Cross website:
The Danish Embassy has contributed sh130m and Danish Red Cross sh228m. Strides Family for Health has provided 800 water for health kits worth sh25m. Each kit comprises of two buckets of 10 litres, 1 piece of soap, a piece of cotton cloth, a wooden spoon, 90 sachets of PUR (water purification sachets) and a plastic bag for carrying.
You can donate to the Ugandan Red Cross here.
I also found an Indiegogo campaign for ACODEV here. The Facebook page has more pictures and information of the disaster as well. It appears to be a Ugandan charity and human rights promoter.
Action for Community Development (ACODEV) is a Uganda-based non-governmental organization working to employ innovative solutions in the areas of human rights, HIV/AIDS, reproductive and child health, and systems strengthening in Eastern Africa.You can contribute to this Indiegogo campaign here.
Please consider making a donation to one of these relief funds, or any other agency you can find. In fact, if you do find other reputable organizations doing good work, please let me know!
Or just spread the word through your social networks! The initial disaster may be over, but there are many homeless, displaced and at risk for cholera who will need help to get them through the hard times ahead.