Over 2000 residents displaced by landslides in the different villages of Bududa Sub County in Bududa District have sought refuge in the nearby schools, churches and trading centres.
The multiple landslides, which occurred on Friday night following a heavy down pour, left several villages affected including Shamwanza, Shiaza, Buhasiru East, Bukhasiru West, Buwaninda, Makalama, Sholelo, Nafunane, Bunateme and Bukhalobo. Several acres of gardens, livestock, and houses were destroyed, though, there were no reports of deaths or injuries.
Mr Isaac Mutobokho, one the affected residents narrated that the calamity occurred late in the night after the heavy rains that had started early at noon but later intensified in the evening at 5pm.
“Since we know what happens when it over rains, we asked the residents to move away from their homes that night before the landslides could occur,” he said.
Mr Ahmed Musamali, who narrowly survived as he rushed to flee his family of 14 after his house got filled with water, said the house was later buried by the mudslide with all the property inside.
“I heard my children screaming and I asked my wife to check what was wrong but only to discover that their bedroom was full of water. We had to evacuate immediately to save our lives, “Mr Musamali said.
Ms Lydia Naduntu, another affected resident, said they are now homeless and destitute.
“We have no shelter, food or clothes. We will soon become destitute because our crops that were already for harvest have also been buried,” she said.
Mr David Tsawu, one of the affected residents said despite their willingness to be relocated to a safer area in Bulambuli District, the government has not done much apart from purchasing the land and abandoning it.
The government acquired about 2800 acres of land in Bunambutye Sub County, Bulambuli District to resettle people living in landslide prone areas in Bududa in 2003, but no further step has been taken to relocate the residents.
Mr John Nambeshe, the Member of Palirament for Majiya County, said more landslides are impending.
“As we talk we are sitting on a time bomb as more cracks have been formed and we can’t tell the extent of their depth. There are several debris and at any moment, the soils may be moved downhill as the rains intensify,” he said.
Mr Nambeshe said more cracks are visible in Bushiyi, Nametsi, Bumwalukani, where he said the soils are still moving and more mudslides are likely to occur anytime.
Mr Nambeshe further said the ministry of disaster preparedness should not come up with their usual policy of giving food relief to the people.
“They should focus at having permanent solution of relocating all these people who are living in the risky areas instead,” he said.
The Bududa District LC5 Chairperson, Mr Wilson Watira, said recently President Museveni promised to compensate people living in higher risky areas to assist them to buy land in safer areas but nothing has been.
“When the President was in Sironko, he told the people that they will be compensated in order to get where they can stay. We don’t know how it ended because we have never received any response,” said Mr Watira.
The state minister for environment, Ms Gorreti Kitutu attributed the landslides to the invasive human activity on the slopes that have left the hills bare with no tree to hold the soils intact.
“There are several preparatory factors that have led to the continuous occurrence of landslides in the Elgon region, including the nature of soils and failure by residents to plant trees around to hold the soil,” she said.
The Office of Prime Minister (OPM) Public Relations Officer, Mr Julius Mucunguzi said as government, they have tried to relocate the people to safer areas but they end up returning.
In 2010, landslides flattened villages in Nametsi Parish, burying an estimated 350 residents.
In 2011 a mudslide in Bulambuli killed about 28 people. In March 2012, mudslides killed six people in Sironko District and in June 2012, another mudslide buried 18 people in Bududa District. Last year, 10 people were buried in Sironko landslide.
A mapping survey done by the geo-technical in the department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Climatic science at Makerere University in 2015, found that a fresh 40km-crack on the slopes of Mt Elgon had developed and warned of looming landslides.