By Simon Wokorach
(Edited by Paul Kalyesubula)
loods have displaced more than 700 people, killed eight others and left over 2,000 acres of crops destroyed in Loriko East Elegu Town Council in Amuru district that borders Uganda and South Sudan.
This catastrophe hit after River Unyama, a tributary to River Aswa, burst its banks and submerged Elegu area following heavy rains that have been pounding Acholi sub-region since July this year.
Michael Otong, the Loriko East Village LC1 Chairperson, reveals that of the 9 people killed in the floods, 6 died berween August and September, one in October and another in November.
Among the deceased according to Otong, are James Otici aged 18 and James Taku aged 15, who was a pupil in Palorinya Refugee Settlement Primary School, and parts of his body were discovered floating on water on the evening of 2nd November 2020. It is believed some of Taku’s body parts were eaten by crocodiles and hippopotamus in the water.
Justine Acaye, a brother to the late Ociti, says. “My brother was swept away by the fast flowing water as he attempted to flee from the floods: only for his body to be discovered two days later stuck in the mud”.
Among the destroyed crops are beans, simsim, and sorghum and 48 heads of livestock.
Local authorities here say over 4,000 people in this area are prone to catching water-borne diseases and food insecurity.
Lucy Akello, the Woman Member of Parliament for Amuru District, has urged the government to commit to its pledge of long-term planning to address persistent flooding in the area.
Michael Lakony, the chairman Amuru district local government says the district has no capacity to respond to the crisis and appeal for immediate intervention. “Amuru district signed an agreement with the ministry of water for creation of a diversion line of the water coming from Unyama Stream two years ago. However even the feasibility study has not been done so far” Lakony stated.
Since 2017 Elegu Township with a populace of 13,000 people has not escaped a single year of flooding and 4 people reportedly died during floods in 2019.
In 2016, the Department of relief, disaster preparedness and management in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), profiled Amuru, including Elegu, as one of the most flood-prone areas in the country.
A 2019 tripartite deal of shs.1.9 billion signed between Amuru District, Trade Mark East Africa and the Ministry of Trade to widen the banks of River Unyama to avert the floods has been stalled by the outbreak of COVID-19. According to the Ministry of Trade, Elegu handles at least 90 per cent of goods and services that enter South Sudan though Nimule.
Astride along the equator, Uganda receives heavy rainfall spread over two rainy seasons. This double maximum of rain is often characterized with torrential downpours that cause flooding. Therefore, it is pertinent for the central, local governments and development partners to pursue a multi stakeholder physical infrastructural strategy to address infrastructural defects that are exacerbated by torrential rains. This includes bridges, culverts and well-networked drainage channels to enhance draining of areas that are susceptible to flooding. On the other hand, controlling flooding could, as well, improve the Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) sector since flooding undermines the efficiency of WASH hence a public health threat.