KAMPALA — Heavy rains in eastern Uganda over the weekend caused flooding, leaving 24 people dead and more than 1,000 others affected, a relief agency said here Monday.
The death toll rose to 24 after more bodies were retrieved from River Nabiyonga Monday morning, said Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS), a relief agency. The death toll was 10 Sunday after the floods hit Mbale and Kapchorwa districts.
The disaster happened two days after the country’s meteorological department warned about the northern, eastern and midwestern parts receiving enhanced rainfall in the month of August. Irene Nakasiita, the URCS spokesperson, told reporters that more than 1,000 people had been affected by the floods which started Saturday night.
Esther Anyakun, minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, in a statement said the rains have caused havoc that is beyond individual and community capacity.
“We ask the general public to leave all the potential waterways both in hills and valleys, landslide-prone areas, we don’t want to lose more lives,” the minister said.
“We request families that are in safe zones to host affected families — those in dangerous areas as more rainy days could cause disastrous effects.”
Assessment teams have already reached the affected areas and would soon report the impact of the floods on communities, according to URCS and the government.
“The assessment team is still on the ground, there are places which are still inaccessible, once they are able to access them, the situation may change,” said Nakasiita.
She said relief aid is already on its way to the affected communities.
Leaders from the affected regions on Monday urged the government to compensate residents affected by flooding instead of relocating them, according to a tweet quoting legislators from the affected region.
The leaders also want temporary evacuation camps set up to curb other impending floods and landslides. Government figures show that in 2021, more than 1 million people were affected by floods.
Mountainous eastern Uganda occasionally experiences landslides during the rainy season but the worst incident was recorded in 2010 when several landslides killed some 300 people and left thousands homeless. In 2018, some 35 people were killed by landslides in the same region.
Government efforts to resettle affected people to other safer places have not succeeded as they return due to the fertile volcanic soils. Environmentalists blame the rampant landslides and floods on the felling of trees as people look for land to cultivate.