In recent days, several parts of Uganda are experiencing heavy rains that lead to floods. These floods have not only destroyed properties but have also caused the loss of lives of many Ugandans. From the western part of the country to Central, to Eastern, Northern and South Western, no part of the country has been spared the wrath of this wave of flooding.
Bududa alone, an Eastern region district in the Elgon area has lost scores of people this year alone due to landslides experienced especially on the hilly lands of the area. Apart from the loss of human lives, properties worth millions have also been lost. Plantations have been washed away, roads and bridges washed away and all these are bringing economic activities in the district and its neighbors to a standstill. Bridges and roads connecting the district to the neighboring districts have been swept away.
To the Western area of the Rwenzori region, the Bundibugyo district has also experienced extreme impacts of flooding. Close to 20 people have been retrieved from the mudslides, with dozens believed to still be buried in the debris of the landslides. Hundreds of others have been left homeless after their shelters were washed away by the mudslides. Most of these are currently being housed at temporary shelters designated by the government and other relief agencies.
Causes of landslides.
According to scientificamerica.com, “A landslide is any geologic process in which gravity causes rock, soil, artificial fill or a combination of the three to move down a slope”. Human activities have been quoted as the main cause of these geological processes that lead to landslides. Activities such as deforestation, uncoordinated and unregulated agricultural practices, and uncoordinated settlement and construction practices, all lead to the weakening of the land surface and thus whenever there are a heavy downpour and a gravitational force, it becomes easy for the water to run down with the weakened soil.
Deforestation exposes the soil to the direct force of water runoff. When it rains, water finds it easy to penetrate the soil which may already be so weakened and thus it becomes easy for the same to be washed away by the running waters. In the same respect, human settlements, agricultural activities, and other human activities weaken the land.
Flooding doesn’t leave the areas it hit with good memories. As earlier noted, landslides lead to a decline in economic activities. Because most of the road networks are cut off between different trading centers, businesses come to a standstill. This, in turn, leads to a reduction in food supplies as there is no easy way to move food items between the different trading centers.
Widespread of diseases. As has been already noted in Bundibugyo and Bududa districts, there are high risks of the cholera outbreak. Lack of clean water has left the many displaced people with no option but to drink whatever water they find in the areas where they are. Health facilities are not enough to accommodate all of them. The over 500 people in the resettlement areas are sharing toilets, all that are putting their lives at risk of contracting diseases.
Ultimately the loss of lives. Other than the displacement of hundreds of people, scores lose lives in the mudslides. The poor road network caused by the mudslides makes rescue efforts hard to reach the affected areas. In the same way, the delivery of medical supplies to the affected areas becomes so difficult and so even those who would have survived, die due to lack of medical attention.
What we need to do.
Landslides and floods are effects of climate change and this has become a global challenge that has puzzled many. Despite some countries denying the fact that climate change is a real challenge, the effects continue to manifest and to be experienced across the world, and with Africa being hit the more.
As a mitigation move, let us restore the forests that we have destroyed. Key forest cover has been destroyed as a result of the need for energy, settlement purposes, and others for commercial purposes. Let us make it compulsory for every Ugandan to plant a tree whenever they get an opportunity. We celebrate anniversaries, hold parties, but we miss out on an important memorial part of planting a tree. Can we also make it compulsory for students to plant trees as part of entry requirements in school?
Plan all our settlements. Let us avoid settling on steep slopes so that even if a landslide happens, there are no people lost in the same. In the same line, let’s control the level of agricultural activities we conduct on steep slopes. This will help keep the land strong and intact, this will, in turn, reduce the frictions caused by geological processes.
Lastly, let us protect nature. Humanity heavily relies on natural resources, most especially forests and water bodies. These need to be guarded jealously for their destruction will mean total destruction of humanity. Let us take ownership of our lives by protecting nature. If we don’t protect nature, we are buying our way to the graves.
We should not treat the rains we are experiencing in November and December (These are harvesting months and thus no rain is supposed to be experienced) as a blessing but as a warning for looming disaster ahead of us. Expect hunger because crops have been destroyed, widespread diseases and a declining economic state.
Fellow youth, let us not allow the Paris Agreement signed in 2016 for which Uganda ratified to go to the drain, let us raise up to make our leaders accountable to us by protecting nature and ensuring that Climate Change is given attention in all spheres of their governance. Remember, words without ACTION will not solve this global challenge.
ACT NOW to save Humanity.
Masereka Charles Yoronimu is a Youth Leader, Farmer and Climate Activist from Wakiso