Uganda government raises alert over rising water levels

Government has raised red flag over the sudden rising water levels on lake shores and river banks. Inhabitants around the area have been advised to evacuate abruptly to prevent a looming disaster.

Residents wade through flooded section in Kaberamaido District

On May, 1, the Ministry of Water and Environment issued a warning to the residents in the district who are sharing Lake Kyoga that the persistent rising of the Lake could subject them to a terrible catastrophe. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Alfred Okot Okidi alerted that both Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga are increasing in size and are continuously reclaiming their territories. At Kaberamaido District headquarters, Mr. Alfred explained that the river is returning back to its territory as well as the swamps and urged that they should not perceive it as an invasion. The districts that share Lake Kyoga include Nakasongala, Pallisa, Amolatar, Kamuli, Apac, Kaligo, Soroti, Katakwi, Ngora, Dokolo, Buyende, Kumi and Kaberamaido.

The Kaberamaido district chairperson Albert Anthony Njoku stated that a lot of people have been affected by floods from Lakes of Victoria and Kyoga as they rapidly fill up. Currently, gardens and homes located near swamps had already submerged. He added that they are still preparing documentations on the affected households that would be submitted to the relevant ministries for support. On May, 1, an assessment on the effect of the rising water levels in Lira, Dokolo, Kaberamaido and Selere districts were conducted by a team from Ministry of Water and Environment. During the one-day exercise, it was discovered that over 2,000 people in Morem Parish, Kobulubulu sub-county situated in Kaberamaido have been separated from the rest of the country by floods. Meanwhile, Nasebwe and Kitoko villages were mostly affected.

According to a retired teacher, Alex Otim, a minimum of 50 families in Morem Parish had been displaced while dozens of houses and gardens got sank. The LC3 chairperson, Mr Apollo Ewidu also reported that in Serere, more than 5,000 people in 29 villages which are located in sub-county were also affected by the flood. The flood also destroyed crops like maize, sorghum, millet, simsim, cassava, potatoes and pigeon peas. Other sub-county in Serere including Labwor, Kadungulu, Kyere, Kateka and Pingire were also affected by the floods.

Furthermore, in Ntokoro District over 400 households had been displaced and their properties destroyed as a result of the rising water levels in Lake Albert. The local residents reported that the problem started on October last year and got deteriorated this year after heavy rains on April last month. In February, most landing sites closed downstream in Buliisa District following the sediments carried by river Semuliki from upstream catchments in Bundibugyo and Ntokoro District. This was the cause of the flooding from Lake Albert which halted business.

The executive director of National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Dr. Tom Okurut stated that the only solution to curtail the problem is for people to avoid nearness around river banks. The state minister of Environment, Ms Beatrice issued a warning of eviction with no compensation for people that would be caught in forest reserves, wetlands or shorelines. The manager of the Upper Nile Water Management Zone, Mr Richard Musota upbraided the rising water levels on human interference on the water bodies.

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