On June 25th this year, landslides were witnessed in the villages of Bunakasala and Bunamulembwa in Uganda. Over 20 homes were buried and media reports show that over 18 people were feared dead.
This is the not the first time that this natural disaster has struck.
In 1970, landslides killed over 60 people in Bulucheke Sub County.
Between 1997 and 1999, over 48 people lost their lives to landslides.
In 1997, over 10,000 people were displaced due to landslides.
In 2002, three children were reported to have been killed by landslides and many more injured.
In 2007, landslides destroyed homes and crops and displaced over 10 families.
In 2010, landslides killed over 300 people, though the Government stuck to 100 deaths.
Statistics show that the rate of displacement due to landslides in Uganda is over 700 per year.
With these figures, therefore, there are two things to observe: One, landslides, in as much as they are natural disasters are preventable if the chronology of deaths and displacements are anything to go by. Two, something needs to be done by the Government to help arrest this situation quickly. The former is regrettable yet something could be done, the latter is squarely the job of the Government and if done well, the disasters waiting to happen could be averted.
Disaster preparedness is nothing foreign. So is recovery plan. It doesn’t require a rocket scientist to discern that the families living in landslide-prone area need to be resettled somewhere else. It is plain knowledge too that these families need to be resettled in places where they would not be lumped together and forgotten.
But every year, with efficient accuracy, we are treated to news of landslides in Uganda. Then we will watch the news and read the ‘disaster’ and the heroic efforts of Red Cross and individuals, the Ugandans themselves (Ugandans on Twitter), helping in distributing foodstuffs, blankets and other emergency necessities. These families deserve better. Earthquakes, they rock other continents. There is little they do about it. Dust Bowls, they blow in other nations. One can see the desperation since it is severe. What about Uganda? A landslide, something which has killed since 1970s and even before—the records are there—something which can be prevented. Landslides are not earthquakes or dust bowls. Do these families have to die every year? Do they deserve it?
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