The district chairman of Manafwa in Eastern Uganda has urged the people of landslide-prone Buduuda district to relocate to neighboring Bulambuli district as a lasting solution to the frequent landslides that kill people whenever it rains.
John Musila said: “I want to urge our people to shift from this place and move to Bulambuli district,” he said. He didn’t say why they should not move to his own district of Manafwa and instead to Bulambuli.
Musila also revealed that they have a plan to persuade the people to sell their land to government but be allowed to go back for purposes of cultivating the fertile land.
This is not the first time the land-purchase in exchange for relocation is being mooted. The government relocated some 600 families in 2012 after efforts to buy land in lower-lying areas of Bugisu yielded no results.
Impact of latest landslides
By the time of filing this report, the police had confirmed that it had retrieved at least 39 bodies from the mud following Thursday’s landslides that swept away villages on the slopes of Mt. Elgon. Although the latest landslides hit different villages, the tragedy happened in Bukalasi sub-county, the same region that was hit by the 2010 landslide disaster in which left an estimated 100 people killed and over 5000 displaced.
While speaking to reporters from the worst-hit villages, Wilson Watira, the Buduuda district chairman told reporters that the government had sent at least UGX300,000 to cater for the burial of each person.
Musila has complained that the government had not responded fast enough to the tragedy.
He blamed the recurrent landslides on the government’s failure to prioritize Bugisu region by allocating a full ministry in charge of Bugisu.
“Kampala is a small district has a full minister, There is a minister in charge of Karamoja region we experience landslides almost every year, and yet there is no ministry [to cater for these disasters] too,” said Musila.
How all hell broke loose
Accounts by some of the survivors indicate that the landslides were triggered by heavy rain that fell in Buchende forest located on the upper altitude. Some eye witnesses say that flood water collected in a depression that was located in the forest.
The huge volume of water into a stream is believed to have found through cracks of soft rocks through to a stream known as Tsumi that gained momentum enabling it to carry big rocks and soil to result into the death of dozens.
The landslides mostly affected the villages of Kiteteyi, Wanjenuwa, Nalutungu and Bunamwamba.
History of landslides
Bududa has had its sad tales of landslides.
On March 1, 2010, more 94 bodies were recovered and several hundreds went missing when heavy rains triggered soil and rocks to roll down the slopes of Mt. Elgon. The villages of Nameti, Kubewo, and Nankobe were most affected.
Although the government subsequently relocated over 600 families of Bududa landslides to Kiryandongo district in Bunyoro, many of those who were taken to Kiryandongo have since moved back to the dangerous but fertile slopes of Elgon.
Another landslide happened in the same district in 2012.
The region’s fertile soils favour the growing of numerous crops including Arabica coffee, Cavendish Bananas and several other crops, relatively effortlessly.