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River Nyamwamba finds hope amidst rising rain waters

A section of River Nyamwamba

A section of River Nyamwamba

The ongoing heavy rains around the country have increasingly become a concern as flooding has led to several incidents of loss of life, destruction of property and displacement of people.

One such area prone to the unfortunate incidents are the villages through which River Nyamwamba is Kasese passes through. However, the recent interventions by the ministry of Water and Environment have eased the risks as GEOFREY SERUGO writes.

The villages of Kyambogho, Masule and Kanjuki, along the path of River Nyamwamba in Kasese have experienced a ray of hope with recent interventions led by the ministry of Water and Environment. The history of this river has been marked by occasional flooding, causing significant loss of life and property, with notable incidents in 2013 and 2020.

In a recent media engagement on the maintenance and flood protection works along the river, it was noted that the 25-square-kilometer stretch has been a source of concern for the communities it traverses, as flooding has become a threat.

Early in the year in March, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja visited Kasese, empathizing with the victims of a minor flooding episode. During her visit, she recognized the critical role of regular desilting and the challenges posed by boulders rolling down from Mountain Rwenzori into the river.

Nabbanja directed a multi-sectoral approach to address the issue, assigning responsibilities to various entities. The Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) was tasked with working on major roads and seven bridges connected to the river. The ministry of Energy ensured the licensee, Serengeti Energy Company, conducted regular desilting around their power generation equipment.

Kilembe Mines Company was directed to undertake similar responsibilities for river areas under its jurisdiction. The ministry of Water assumed a central role, allocated Shs 17bn for a comprehensive project, and engaged Ambitious Construction Ltd for desilting and construction works.

The project included the construction of Crycopian and Gabion concrete structures, tree planting initiatives, community sensitization, and disaster committee formation across sub-counties prone to flooding.

Despite the ministry’s efforts, the collaborative approach is yet to materialize fully. For instance, Unra, Serengeti Energy and Kilembe Mines continue to face financial constraints and are yet to fulfill their responsibilities. Nonetheless, the local leaders, led by Bulembia division LC-III chairman Richard Bomera, expressed gratitude for the mitigation efforts.

Speaking to the media, he emphasized the inclusive and consultative nature of the disaster management plan, enacted in cooperation with the Kasese district local government. He credited the interventions for preventing a recurrence of the 2013-like flooding disaster.

“I urge government and parliament to allocate more funding for routine desilting of the river to help prevent future flooding disasters. I also propose a one-off payment of Shs 4bn for the acquisition of essential equipment and investment in measures to prevent boulders from Rwenzori mountain from causing harm and damage to property.”

During the two-day tour, various community leaders called for the revitalization of Kilembe Mines and the importance of frequent desilting of the river for the stability and well-being of the communities. What’s more, the desilting project has helped mobilise communities using a participatory approach to implement the different catchment-community-driven activities.

Activities such as tree-planting, beekeeping, aquaculture as well as stone development have emerged to keep several youths economically productive.

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