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4,000 homes to get Shs 7m each to relocate from Elgon

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja launching the program in Bududa

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja launching the program in Bududa

At least 4,000 households in the eastern Elgon sub-region are set to receive Shs 7 million in cash each from international NGO, GiveDirectly to facilitate their relocation away from disaster-prone areas.

The most vulnerable beneficiaries have been mapped out in the eastern districts of Bududa, Manafwa, Namisindwa and Sironko. The Shs 31 billion project, which is set to kick off this week with sensitisation of the community beneficiaries, was launched last week in Bududa by Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja and GiveDirectly country director Ivan Ntwali.

The non-conditional cash relief will be sent via mobile money to the families in three disbursements for them to choose where to relocate. According to Lucy Abulo, GiveDirectly external relations manager, by their calculations, the money is enough to purchase a piece of land at about Shs 4 million, build a two-bedroom house at about Shs 1.5m and remain with a balance of about Shs 1 million to start in the new area.

Although the money is unconditional, she, however, said it should not be misused or abused by the beneficiaries.  Following the March 2010 landslides that buried more than 300 people and swept across three villages, the landslide vulnerability assessment conducted by parliament in 2012 established that over 100,000 families across the Elgon sub-region were living in high-risk areas with the majority in Bududa district.

Last year, at least 3,620 families were displaced in eastern Uganda and the majority in the Elgon sub-region. So far, the government has only been able to relocate just 250 families permanently in Bulambuli district.

Forty per cent of Bududa is Mt Elgon national park experiencing rainfall above 1500mm with two peaks within a year hence the high levels of precipitation and surface runoff leading to mudslides and flash floods. According to Bududa district chairperson Milton Kamoti Wasunguyi, 17 out of 23 sub-counties have since been mapped out as highly vulnerable through geo-referencing and ground truthing methods.

These include; Bulucheke, Bushiyi, Busiriwa, Bushika, Bunabutiti, Bumayoka, Bufuma, Mabono, Bundesi, Bukalasi, Bubiita, etc due to their proximity to river Manafwa and Tsutsu carriages. So prone to disasters the district is that even during the launch of the cash project, mudslides occurred in Shikhamosi, Nangwe and Bukitongo villages in Bufutsa parish where 10 houses were completely buried.

Due to its topography, Bududa always experiences geological hazards such as land/mudslides, rock falls, soil erosion, and earthquakes and climatological/meteorological hazards such floods, drought, hailstorms, strong winds, and lightning. Since 1997, Bududa district has experienced at least 13 landslides including the 2019 Naposhi landslide in Bushika sub county, which killed 20 people.

Earlier in 2018, Naposhi lost another 61 people while another five were killed in Bunamwamba in Buwali sub-county in the same year. Four weeks ago, 30 people were killed by floods when R. Nabuyonga in Namakwekwe burst its banks and swept through Mbale city at the foot of Mt Elgon.

Wasunguyi called for enhanced public awareness and proactive engagement in disaster reduction, saying the limited adaptive capacities of the community make people more vulnerable hence calling for accurate predictions, early warning, and preparedness.

“For those living in low-lying areas, it is like sitting on a time bomb waiting for the disaster to happen any time. It is on this premise that this cash relief project that we are launching will give these families displaced or those living under cracks and those at risk of landslides and mudslides the means to relocate to safer low-lying areas,” said Ntwali.

Ntwali urged local leaders to ensure that the messaging of risk is delivered and uptake of the programme. GiveDirectly activities were suspended on September 9, 2020, with the government initially unhappy with the direct $15m cash disbursement to people whose earnings were affected by the Covid-19 lockdown.

The government then, argued that giving beneficiaries cash would make them lazy while some intelligence allegedly linked the money to politics. They only resumed operations in September last year following a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni at State House Nakasero.

Nabbanja said now the government is happy with GiveDirectly because they have aligned their relief to government problems. She admitted delays in the relocation of the people but also blamed them for poor farming practices and overproducing which puts pressure on the little available land. She said the government has secured Shs 3 billion and will construct 60 houses for the riskiest families in three months.

She said the grand master plan for the region includes the construction of industrial parks in Mbale to relocate industries currently encroaching on wetlands and the construction of satellite cities. She further warned against abuse of the relief funds, saying disbursement should not be premised on politics.

fkisakye@observer.ug

Comments

+3 #1 WADADA rogers 2022-08-31 10:28
But what can 7M do in this current Uganda, these guys will eat the money and find an excuse to go back to their ancestral land
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0 #2 Henry Baisi 2022-09-02 12:02
Mudslides and floods have affected Uganda since the dawn of time. That has not stopped people from living on fertile slopes in mountain areas. The Ministry of Environment should study options, including building flood defences.
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