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Butiaba sub-county disappearing under water, MPs warn gov’t

One of the houses surrounded by the rising Lake Albert water in Boma village Butiaba Sub county. Photo by Emmanuel Okello.

Buliisa, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  For several months, the rising water levels have been covering previously dry land as the nation looked on. Death, damage to farms and homes have been ravaging Butiaba Sub-County in Buliisa district particularly severely.

Now Members of Parliament from Buliisa district are appealing to the Government to declare the floods situation over Butiaba Sub county a national disaster. They fear that the sub-county may soon be no more as it disappears under water, and the sooner the government plans mass evacuation of the Butiaba residents the safer for the thousands of affected families.

Over 500 homesteads in the area have already been submerged in the floods following rising levels of water from Lake Albert.

Stephen Mukitale, the Buliisa County MP in a press conference at Parliament Tuesday told journalists that the situation in Butiaba is dire with  fish factories and the market in Wanseko flooded. Butiaba Health Centre III and several schools are submerged.

The landing sites of Kawaibanda, Butiaba, Boma, Kigangaizi, Tugombili, Walukuba, Bugoigo, Kamagongoro, Kigungu, Serule, Piida, Waisoki, Triangle and Magali have been been rendered un-operational.

Mukitale has called for the evacuation and resettlement of close to 4,000 families that have been displaced by floods for the past four months.   He says several people have been killed by the floods which have also shattered the economic activity and livelihood of the people. He says most social services had been affected and it was a disaster now beyond control.

The MPs say that Government has been slow in responding to the matter, and if the water continues to rise, the sub county would be no more.

Norah Bigirwa, the woman MP for Buliisa district says that the floods will affect reopening of schools and several other businesses which have physically been washed away by water.

She called for a multisectoral approach to rescue the Ugandans affected by the waters. Bigirwa also called for alternative livelihoods for the people stuck in the floods, especially because there has also been a covid-19 lockdown that has changed many things.

She also says that Uganda as a nation should get in touch with the rest of the nations in the region to discuss how the rising water level crisis can be resolved in a regional perspective. Bigirwa says people have been displaced in many places near the lakes and rivers in Uganda including Lake Albert, Kyoga, Victoria among others.

She says the floods have also affected the oil roads which are of strategic importance to Government.

According to Article 110 of the constitution, the President can declare a state of emergency for a specific area, or region due to a disaster.

According to the National Policy for Disaster Preparedness management of 2010, a state of national disaster shall be declared when most of the basic social services of a community have been seriously disrupted or broken down causing widespread human, material, economic or environmental suffering or losses to a population exceeding 50,000 people.

Disaster can also be be declared when the Local Government level is unable to provide the affected communities with relief services and goods and when the basic human needs are lacking.

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