Several people who were displaced by the flood of Lake Albert in Bunyoro Region, Mid-Western Uganda have returned to their original settlements that were previously submerged by the flood water that hit the area from 2020-2021.
In Buliisa district, more than 20 families out of the more than 200 at Walukuba village in Butyaba sub-county have re-occupied the lowland after the lake water rescinded to its normal volume, according to Mr Ismail Ramadhan Abiriga, the area village chairman.
The affected people had for decades occupied the area within 200 metres from the lake; a distance that Uganda’s environmental protection ombudsman – the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) bars people from occupying for settlement for fear of the ever expected flood.
The non-adherence to the regulator’s directive, caution and advice saw the affected people suffer the brunt of displacement and loss of property following the re-emergence of the lake water flood that the elders say was a resurgence of the 1962-1964 flooding.
Mr Abiriga reveals that since their income had been shattered by the catastrophe, the returnees were forced to go back to their former homesteads where they had lived before the water swamped the lake shoreline since they could no longer afford paying rent to which they were not accustomed.
“Most of the people who returned to settle on the formerly flooded areas are those who were either living in rented houses or with their relatives and others. Those who were living with their relatives exerted pressure on the house spaces and, therefore, it was automatic that they had to leave when opportunity struck,” he says.
Mr Abiriga also says fear to lose their plots of land forced the flood affected persons to return to their former areas adding many people had started showing interest in the unoccupied plots where especially temporary houses and huts were destroyed by the flood.
When contacted, the Buliisa District Environment Officer, Mr Rogers Tusiime, refused to talk to this online news portal about the matter, saying he does not talk to the press via phone.
In Hoima, at Rwentale landing site also on the shoreline of Lake Albert in Buseruka sub-county, the village chairman, Mr Baker Ogen, says many who were displaced by the flood have also returned to their former areas after the water went back to its normal level.
He urges environmental, especially water experts to sensitise the Lakers about the dangers of re-occupying the once flooded areas since there is a possibility of the repeat of the catastrophe as it happened when the first flood hit in the 1960s later the latter occurred.
The Buseruka Sub-county Local Government Chairman, Mr Ali Tinkamanyire, cautions the Lakers who were affected by the flood not to return to those areas recently flooded by Lake Albert advising them to listen to nature as it speaks since there is a possibility of the return of the flood.