Local Water and Environment

Climate Change Triggers Devastating Floods in Kasese District, Leaving Communities in Distress

Innocent Kiiza is an Enviromental Investigative Journalist with passion for Climate Change, Water and Wildlife.

BY INNOCENT KIIZA

Kasese district in Uganda is currently reeling from the devastating impacts of severe flooding caused by intense and persistent heavy rains in recent days.

The disaster has particularly taken a toll on children and women residing in homesteads located in lower local governments, specifically areas near the catchments of River Nyamwamba and Mubuku.

According to Elias Byamungu, the Chief Administrative Officer of Kasese, the floods, which commenced on June 21 and continued for several days, have caused extensive damage and displacement of residents. Evelyne Mugume, the Senior Environment Officer of Kasese municipality, attributes the heavy rainfall to the effects of climate change.

Mugume explains that the warmer air in the upper atmosphere, combined with excessive rainfall reaching up to 2000 mm, has saturated the mountain bogs in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park, resulting in unexpected and torrential downpours.

Evelyne Mugume, Kasese Municipal Senior Environment Officer.

Over the years, the accumulation of sediment deposits in the Nyamwamba and Mubuku rivers has obstructed the natural flow of floodwaters, exacerbating the destruction caused by the recent floods. Mugume highlights that a previous fire incident in 2011 destroyed the reserved wetland bogs in the Rwenzori Mountains, which used to regulate water flow.

Without the vegetation to hold the water, the stability of the riverbanks has been compromised, leading to landslides. The combination of heavy rainfall and increased water volume due to the obstruction of river channels has further intensified the impact of the floods.

Despite predictions by the Uganda National Meteorological Authority that the western region, including Kasese, would experience below-normal rainfall, the Nyamwamba and Mubuku rivers were unable to contain the torrential downpour, resulting in severe flooding in the surrounding areas.

While many houses were affected by the floods, most sustained damage and were quickly reoccupied once the waters receded. Fortunately, there were no reports of complete or partial house destruction or casualties, according to Elias Byamungu.

However, several areas within Kasese District, including Karusandara, Maliba sub-county, Ibanda-Kyanya, Kasese municipality Nymawamba division, and Bulembia division, have suffered varying degrees of damage.

John Mukiza, the Chairperson of Karusandara sub-county, describes how flash floods diverted into the community, causing significant destruction to livestock and crops. Over 100 people have been displaced as a result of the Mubuku River overflowing its banks.

Immediate interventions, such as the restoration of river catchments through bamboo tree planting, have been initiated to address the urgent needs of the flood-affected communities. However, the magnitude of these efforts is still insufficient, emphasizing the pressing need to improve drainage systems in the area.

To mitigate future disasters, affected communities have been identified, on-site visits conducted, and risk areas pinpointed for possible evacuation. Sensitization campaigns have also been launched to raise awareness among community leaders and residents regarding evacuation centers and disaster preparedness.

The assessment findings have been shared with relevant stakeholders at the local, national, and international levels to facilitate a swift response.

The challenges faced by the affected communities are multifaceted. Inadequate food supply remains a pressing issue, with limited access to clean water exacerbating the situation.

Ravaged yam garden in Karusandara Sub County.

The lack of proper sanitary facilities and sufficient lighting further compounds the difficulties faced by the flood-affected population. Additionally, the inadequate supply of medical provisions and the absence of adequate shelter pose significant health risks to the affected individuals, particularly women and children.

The vulnerability of the affected population has raised concerns about issues such as malnutrition, disease outbreaks, and potential cases of teenage pregnancies and gender-based violence if social support is not provided promptly.

The provision of proper hygiene and sanitation facilities, along with temporary shelters, is crucial to ensuring the well-being of the affected individuals.

As the people of Kasese District grapple with the aftermath of this natural disaster, their resilience shines through. With the support and solidarity of the wider community, it is hoped that the affected individuals and families will be able to rebuild their lives and communities.

However, it is imperative for the government and humanitarian organizations to address the urgent needs of the flood-affected population, providing them with essential resources and support to overcome this challenging period.

The recent floods in Kasese District serve as a stark reminder of the growing threat of climate change and its devastating consequences. It is crucial for both local and global efforts to prioritize climate change mitigation and adaptation measures to ensure a more resilient and sustainable future for all.

Only through collective action and proactive measures can we effectively combat the impacts of climate change and safeguard the well-being of vulnerable communities worldwide.

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