Bududa was on Tuesday plunged into mourning again after fresh landslides washed away villages, leaving five people dead, dozens injured and hundreds displaced.
The survivors looked frail and heartbroken. Most narrated the story of what had transpired between tears.
They said their belongings such as household items and livestock were buried by the rolling boulders that struck their homes on Tuesday night after a downpour.
The most ravaged villages are Shisakali in Buwali Sub-county, where an eight-year-old girl was buried by mud. The girl, whose body was retrieved by locals, was a pupil of Bundesi Primary School.
Another landslide occurred in Bunamwamba in the same sub-county. Two people, a woman and child, died and their bodies were retrieved by the locals.
In Suume Village in Bukalasi Sub-county, River Summe again burst its banks and reports indicate two people died. The search for bodies was still ongoing by press time.
The injured are admitted to several health centres including Bukalasi, Bulucheke and Bududa hospitals.
More than 400 families have been displaced. They sought refuge in local churches, mosques and trading centres but have no food or other essential items such as beddings.
Ms Esther Nashuwu, a survivor and mother of the deceased girl, said her daughter died after the debris buried their house.
“I heard the noise from the uphill and I ran out of the house to find out what was happening. Within few seconds, the mud had covered my house and I could not save my daughter,” she said.
Mr Titus Wamara, a survivor, said he was saved by a neighbour.
“My neighbour shouted and banged my door asking me to run or else I die in the house. I ran and left everything behind,” he said.
Mr Samson Wambete, a resident of Bukobero and local leader, said many people have been left homeless and without food.
“We are in shock and helpless because apart from the lives lost, several houses, animals and crops have been destroyed,” he said.
On October 11 last year, a mudslide occurred in Bukalasi Sub-county, leaving more than 55 people dead.
It was triggered by heavy rainfall causing River Tsuume in Tsuume Village to burst its banks. More landslides had occurred before and claimed lives.
Bududa District chairperson Wilson Watira, however, said preliminary information indicated four people had died, two bodies recovered and more than 400 displaced.
“The information we have as a district indicates that four died, 10 were injured, 70 households displaced and several acres of crops, animals and birds lost,” he said.
Mr Watira said they communicated to the Office of Prime Minister and NGOs for assistance.
“We have evacuated those at risk and they are now residing in safer places at the nearby churches, mosques and trading centres,” he said, adding they would soon secure relief items for the displaced.
Mr Godfrey Watenga, the area MP, urged government to speed up relocation of the landslide victims.
Bududa District Woman MP Justin Khainza asked government to expedite relocation of the survivors.
Mr Julius Mucunguzi, the head of communications in the Office of the Prime Minister, said a team from the Disaster Preparedness and Management Department had been sent to the area to establish the facts.
“There are reports of displacement and destruction of property as well as missing persons. Search and rescue teams are on the ground,” he said.
Mr Mucunguzi added that people living on risky and dangerous slopes of Mt Elgon should relocate and seek shelter in safer areas.
Mr John Baptist Nambeshe, the MP for Majiya County in Bududa, said they had earlier asked government to relocate people living in landslide-prone area but their call was ignored.
“I blame the ministry officials for failing to heed to our advice. We raised a number of issues and among them asked them to use the Shs32b to pay the people individually and they resettle themselves but they could not do that due to their selfish reasons,” Mr Nambeshe said.
He said the ongoing relocation of people to Bunambutye in Bulambuli District is a slow process, which would not rescue the people at risk.
“They are only generating money out of the project instead of resettling people. They have no mitigation measures in place. They are very happy when our people die,” he claimed.
The State Minister for Environment, Dr Mary Gorreti Kitutu, said the permanent solution to landslides in Bugisu is restoration of the degraded environment.
“The problem of landslides will always be there because people have destroyed the environment due to poor farming practices. We need to protect the river banks,” she said, adding that leaders should not use the occurrence of landslides for political motives.
Mr Martin Owori, the commissioner for Disaster Preparedness and Management, said government has a comprehensive resettlement plan but it requires time to implement it.
Recently, the government started the exercise of relocating landslide victims to Bunambutye in Bulambuli District, where 101 houses have been constructed in the first phase.
More than 720 people have already been resettled on the land, which is more than 2,800 acres.
A total of 900 houses will be constructed in phases as part of the government’s 10-year resettlement plan,
which involves establishing large resettlement schemes within Bugisu sub-region and supporting families that choose to move anywhere outside Bugisu. Sub-region.
By Daily Monitor