Floods reduce on Lake Albert, fear remains on April rains

Showing the former level of floods at Booma Trading Centre in Butyaba Sub-county,Buliisa District, women return for business.

There is a noticeable reduction on the water level on Lake Albert shores that has brought some ray of hope to the thousands of displaced people since May last year.

Business is slowly resuming amid fear that April rains might re-rise the water level.

Arriving at Booma Village in Butyaba Sub-county, Buliisa District our reporter sighted three women sitting on the roadside retailing petrol fuel in litres. She sits facing another two women on a formally deserted house conducting a similar business.

Ms Oliver Ayebale, who is selling petrol, tells Kazi-njema News that they are using any chance available to bridge the income gaps created by the devastating floods alongside the global Covid-19 pandemic.  

Ms Oliver Ayebale closes her bottle of petrol ahead of display at Booma Village in Butyaba Sub-county, Buliisa District.

Still at Booma trading centre, visibly are withering aquatic plants that had emerged in flooding water.

Aquatic vegetation withers at Booma Trading Centre in Butyaba sub-county, Buliisa district after the January and February dry season.

Ms Abel Asiimwe Mulimba, a resident of Butyaba still wonders why the government has failed to pay attention to the flood victims like it did to the Buduuda landslide victims that were resettled in Kiryandongo district.

“I am surprised about the government response to the floods. Many children are at risk of missing education forever whereas others have already lost out to teenage pregnancies due to the hard situation caused by floods and the Covid-19 pandemic,” he says.

Mr Abel Mulimba, resident of Booma village in Butyaba sub-county, Buliisa district bitter with government over relief aid.

Ms Robinah Mulimba, the Buliisa District Secretary for Production and Natural Resources, says more than 1,000 persons still need relief aid to be able to move on with the life of uncertainty since there is fear that the April rains may reignite the now reducing water level.

Audio: Mulimba on water level (Kiswahili)

More than 400 persons that fled floods are working to establish themselves at Wantembo areas near the military garrison with fear for eviction threats because the land is in dispute between the well established businessmen and the local community.

The popular Rift Valley Guest House relaxes a bit but remains submerged in Butyaba sub-county.

Mr Mugisa Mukuru, the Wantembo Village Chairman, says sanitation is still a menace since latrines were submerged. He fears that with the reduction of the water level that will consequently enable people to return to the area, there will be an outbreak of cholera if mitigation measures are not devised including construction of more pit latrines.

Audio: Mukuru on health (Runyoro/Rutooro)
The popular Magali street remains inaccessible, despite the reduction in water level.

The Office of the Prime Minister has three times delivered relief items including maize flour, beans and blankets which the victims and local leaders have always described as too little compared to the demand. The government has also been promising a comprehensive resettlement plan for the flood victims.

At Wanseko landing site, the water level has also reduced but all strategic locations like the ferry dock site and the former near-lake residences remain submerged with many houses collapsing forever like at Butyaba and other landing sites.

Baranaba Kakura Bagadira a resident of Wanseko fears that the water might not reduce back to the level before floods last year. He draws experience from the 1962/64 floods that never reduced much leaving trading centres like Kampyo disappeared.

Butyaba and Wanseko are the major landing sites on Lake Albert in Bunyoro while Panyimur a major one in Pakwach of West Nile as the giant faces a similar experience.

Dr Callist Tindimugaya, the Commissioner for Water Resources, Planning and Regulation at the Ministry of Water and Environment, discourages Lakers from returning to their houses where the situation seems to normalise because nobody knows what the April-May rains will bring.

Audio: Tindimugaya on water level (English)
Despite the reduction, houses near the lake remain inaccessible.

The rains in the neighbouring Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda greatly influence water levels in Lake Victoria that ends in Lakes Kyoga and Albert.

According to Dr Tindumugaya, water on Lake Albert has reduced from 14.68 metres as of December last year to 13.6 metres by the beginning of March 2021.

Over all, floods have not been distanced from the degradation of environment that allows uncontrolled flow of water to the major water bodies through degraded wetlands.

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