The rainy season has started, bringing hope to residents of Kampala who have been experiencing the intense heat since the beginning of the year.
The early onset of rain is also expected to bring relief to millions of farmers who were watching helplessly as their crops and livestock were being destroyed by the severe dry spell.
The rain has already started in the south-western, western and Victoria basins (districts surrounding Lake Victoria). This is expected to progressively cover different parts of the country particularly the eastern and north-eastern regions around late March.
The March-May rainy season is expected to feature isolated severe thunderstorms and hailstorms in some parts of the country, according to the weather forecast.
According to the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA), the rainy season is going to be favourable for agriculture in different parts of Uganda.
“The population should brace itself for good rain,” said James Bataze, a senior meteorologist under UNMA, adding that the rain has already started and that Uganda is experiencing an early onset of rain. “The rain will stop either in early June or mid-June.”
However, parts of southern Karamoja and parts of the cattle corridor particularly south-western Uganda are likely to receive below normal (unfavourable rain), according to the weather forecast report for March-May.
The cattle corridor runs from north-eastern Uganda across central Uganda to south-western Uganda. It covers about half of Uganda’s landscape and it has the biggest population of Uganda’s livestock.
Northern Uganda and West Nile are expected to receive good rain and they also have high chances of receiving favourable rain.
UNMA has also warned that the rain could affect the disaster-prone areas. The expected disasters include floods and landslides since sporadic rain is expected in some parts of the country. In some areas, lightning strikes will occur. Also, urban authorities are advised to clear drainage channels to reduce flooding, which interferes with motorists.
Farmers told to take advantage
Farmers and agricultural practitioners have been advised to take advantage of the expected good rain and optimise food production.
They are also advised to engage in rainwater harvesting and small scale irrigation where it is possible. In addition, the farmers have been advised to engage in agro-forestry, tree planting and also engage in proper animal and crop husbandry.
Floods are expected in parts of Teso, Busoga, Bukedi regions and other low lying areas of Uganda including Kampala.
The population, as well as local and urban authorities, have been advised to desilt, dig drainage channels around households and gardens.
UNMA in the weather forecast also advised the population to avoid crossing flooded road sections.
Other sectors expected to benefit from the rain include energy particularly hydro-electric power. With increased water in the rivers and lakes, power production is likely to increase to optimal levels.
The rain could also increase risks in the health sector with disease outbreaks such as cholera and typhoid. The weather forecast advises authorities to stock enough drugs.
Government at different levels, as well as humanitarian organisations, has been advised to review disaster contingency plans. In addition, community awareness campaigns should be organised to reduce the impact of any possible disasters.
Landslides, mudslides & hailstorms
People living in mountainous areas of Elgon and Rwenzori that are prone to landslides particularly in areas with cracks have been advised to vacate.
Parts of south-western, western, central and eastern regions are prone to hailstorms. They are advised to plant trees to mitigate the impacts of strong winds.
Lightning strikes are expected around parts of the Lake Victoria basin such as Tororo and other areas of the country.
The population is advised to use rubber shoes or materials during rains and also install lightning arrestors.
Pupils and students are advised to stay apart to mitigate majority victims. They should avoid standing in open space during thunders toms, avoid points with electrical structures and avoid areas with tall, unsafe structures.
Road & marine accidents
There is a likelihood of increased incidences of accidents during the season which is mainly on main highways and the water bodies.
The public is urged to avoid riding and walking across flooded road sections. Also, motorists and cyclists should avoid speeding during heavy rains. They should respect road signs and speed limits on the highways.