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Floods displace thousands in East

By Vision Reporter

Added 19th August 2007 03:00 AM

THOUSANDS of people have been rendered homeless in parts of Teso following torrential rains that have pounded the region in the past days and weeks.

THOUSANDS of people have been rendered homeless in parts of Teso following torrential rains that have pounded the region in the past days and weeks.

By Patrick Jaramogi, John Omoding and Gabriel Esiku
THOUSANDS of people have been rendered homeless in parts of Teso following torrential rains that have pounded the region in the past days and weeks.

Most sub-counties in the districts of Kumi, Soroti, Bukedea, Amuria and Katakwi are deserted.

The rains have also hit Bududa, Bukwo, Mbale and Kapchorwa districts in eastern Uganda, with devastating effects.

A New Vision team, that toured parts of Teso over the weekend, found many roads impassable and bridges washed away. The team visited some of the worst hit areas in Amuria district, Wera, Abarilela, Asamuk and Acowa sub-counties.

It found that the floods had destroyed most crops in what is supposed to be a harvesting season, and had contaminated springs with human excreta.

“All our pit latrines in Abarilela IDP camps have been filled up. Water is now flowing down into the stream where people go for drinking water,” said Abarilela sub-county chairman Max Ebalu. “We have advised the affected people to move to the nearby schools, health centres and churches.”
He appealed for emergency supplies such as tents, food, mosquito nets and drugs.

The New Vision found about 500 people sheltered at Ongotoi Primary School. Others had sought refuge in Ongotoi Catholic Church and the sub-county headquarters. Many had already been displaced earlier by the LRA and the Karimojong.

“We are helpless,” said Teresa Akello, who was displaced from Ongotoi village and has taken shelter in the primary school. “All our food crops have been destroyed. We don’t know how we will feed our families.”

The situation in the other sub-counties is worse. The chairperson of Acowa sub-county, Okwii Oria, estimated that about 16,000 people in his area had been left homeless, while Asamuk sub-county chairman Henry Abaiki Opolot reckons 14,000 people in his area were displaced by the floods.

The Amuria district chairperson, Julius Ochen, has been running statements over the local radio station appealing for help.

State minister for disaster preparedness Musa Ecweru over the weekend described the situation as “catastrophic”.

“What we have been seeing in films and hearing in theatres has arrived in Teso.

The region has had rains for the last two months and reports from weather experts indicate more rains are yet to come,” Ecweru, who is also the MP for Amuria, told the press at the Media Centre on Saturday. The rains are expected to continue until late September.

“Crops like cassava, millet and groundnuts that were due for harvest in Teso are rotting in the gardens and the stench hits you from a distance,” Ecweru added.

He said plastic sheeting, food, medicine and mobile toilets were urgently needed to avert an epidemic. Ecweru was supported by Bukedea woman MP, Rose Akol Okulu, and that of Kumi, Jab Akiror Egunyu.

According to Egunyu, some 2,000 households had become homeless in Ongino in Kumi district.

“The situation is pathetic. We need immediate intervention in the form of food, medicine and shelter,” said the MP who had just returned from the area.

Akol described the situation in Bukedea as a looming calamity. “People are taking shelter in schools and health centres and will not have any food until the next planting season.”

Floods displace thousands in East

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