Floods: Regional disaster officers deployed

By Francis Emorut                 

Government has deployed regional risk disaster officers in all disaster prone areas in the country to handle victims of floods that have ravaged the country, the state minister of refugees and disaster preparedness, Musa Ecweru has said.

"We are getting bad floods, landslides, storms and frequent lightning bolts therefore, need to have disasters officers in these areas in case disaster strikes," Ecweru told World Bank representatives, disaster specialists, MPs resident district commissioners and disaster management officers.

Floods have killed four people in Kasese and displaced thousands and property destroyed in the same area and FortPortal. He said in Acholi-Lango sub-region the officers will be based in Gulu while in Teso region the officers will be stationed in Mbale and for Karamoja in Moroto.

In western Uganda, the disaster officers will be stationed at Fort Portal and Mbarara while in the central region the officers are based at Masaka. The minister also said that Government is setting up disaster risk reduction centres in all the 112 districts.

Ecweru made the remarks during the opening of disaster international workshop on Learning from Mega Disasters-the Great East Japan Earthquake and implementing lessons learnt in Uganda.  Ecweru called for the training of district leaders in disaster issues.

"It extremely critical to train district leaders in disaster risk reduction so as to form disaster committees in the districts," Ecweru said.

The World Bank disaster risk management specialist, Francis Muraya,  said Uganda is prone to a multitude of natural and human induced disasters that impact on human lives by causing death, destruction of infrastructure, property , livelihoods and setting back socio-economic development.

Muraya outlined the major causes of disasters in Uganda as droughts, floods, land/mudslides, prolonged dry spells, lightening, human and livestock diseases and epidemics, fires terrorism.

Others are road and traffic accidents, climate change, increasing weather variability, environmental degradation, population growth, poverty, weak institutional capacities, inadequate information on risks and climate.

He said all these are the driving factors of increased vulnerability of the people and livelihoods of Uganda to disaster. He pointed out that there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift in the country's response to climate extremes from emergency response to drought and floods to enhancing resilience of vulnerable communities.

The chairperson of disaster Parliamentary platform, MP Alex Byarugaba called for the training of lawmakers in disaster management since they legislate and appropriate the budget.

 Byarugaba appealed to Government to install early warning systems. "Uganda's early warning system is so poor sometimes we have depend on Nairobi," Byarugaba said.


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