By Julius Odeke
As part of its disaster preparedness plans, Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) has acquired a new engine boat to strengthen its emergency rescue services on Ssesse Islands.
The 40 horse power boat will serve all the 84 islands on Ssesse, 64 of which are occupied by people. In a month, seven people drown on Lake Victoria in Kalangala district due to heavy loading, drunk riding and bad weather.
Pregnant women who are referred to hospitals on the main land tend to experience transport challenges on the lake. The boat will be used to undertake all humanitarian needs on the islands.
Meanwhile, URCS’ Secretary General Michael Richard Nataka says a Red Cross countrywide stand by team has been set up during the Christmas and New Year holidays to attend to any eventualities that may occur at that time. URCS standby team will work alongside a team from Office of Prime Minister.
Throughout 2012, URCS has supported 603, 750 affected by a wide range of emergencies and disasters in the country. The total number of people affected by disasters in 2012 is 194, 009.
The URCS Disaster Response report 2012 indicates that 321 people have died due to various disasters like landslides, floods, land conflicts, fires, Cholera, Nodding Disease, Plaque, riots, Marburg, Ebola and sickness of Congolese refugees. The highest death recorded is 176 due to Nodding Disease Syndrome.
The affected people were supported with essential household items while for emergency health outbreaks, communities were reached through awareness sessions and hygiene promotion messages.
Congolese refugees that have entered the country since January are 50, 996, landslides affected 96, 222; floods 31, 938; land conflicts 2, 183; fires 5, 890. Cholera cases were 3, 548, Marburg Fever 20 cases, Ebola 17 cases, Plaque 5 cases. Nodding Disease has affected 3, 523 people.
Nataka says URCS has already envisaged a number of humanitarian challenges in 2013 which the agency will be ready to attend to.