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  • Uganda: Epidemics, Famine Coming After Floods

    Uganda: Epidemics, Famine Coming After Floods
    The Monitor (Kampala)
    17 September 2007
    Posted to the web 17 September 2007
    Peter Nyanzi & Frank Nyakairu
    Kampala
    http://allafrica.com/stories/200709170013.html


    FLOODs currently battering the country mostly in eastern and northern Uganda are forecast to get only worse.


    Experts have painted a bleak picture of an already devastated region saying heavier rainfall is on the way in the coming weeks, and it will spread to the central and other regions as well.


    The floods, triggered by torrential rains have so far led to the deaths of at least 10 people, displaced thousands more and destroyed crops, livestock and buildings.

    The Cabinet will sit this week to determine if the most affected region should also be declared a disaster area.

    However, Ugandans in other regions should also brace themselves for similarly heavy rains for the next two-three months.



    Serious consequences such as waterborne diseases, landslides and destruction of infrastructure and food shortage particularly in urban areas are inevitable.


    The Department of Meteorology has said the heavy rainfall will not only get worse but also spread to all parts of the country. According to the seasonal rainfall forecast for September - December, which was released by the department last week, there is "an increased likelihood" of above normal rainfall over most parts of the country.


    The forecast indicates that what everyone regards as the heaviest rainfall to date has indeed just started and its full intensity would be felt by mid-November in most regions.


    "Overall, there is an increased likelihood of near normal to above normal rainfall over most parts of the country," the forecast reads.


    Western region

    The western region, which has until now remained largely unaffected will get their share of the open heavens in October and November. The forecast should cause even more concern about a washed out Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) due in November, because according to the forecast, the rains are expected to peak in mid-November in Kampala and the Central region in general.


    The heavy rains, which the experts have attributed to a phenomenon referred to as La Nina (Spanish for little girl), will only start to subside countrywide in mid or late December.


    The situation, which has now reached disaster proportions in eastern Uganda, have caused anxiety in both government circles and aid agencies particularly as they are expected to engender widespread food scarcity, the outbreak of epidemics and the widespread destruction of infrastructure.


    "Up to 300,000 people have been cut off and isolated in the countryside with no access to clean water and food," said Disaster Preparedness State Minister Musa Ecweru, who toured the eastern region in a helicopter on Saturday.


    Mr Ecweru, told journalists in Kampala on Friday that he was confident the government would handle the situation.


    The Country Representative for the World Food Programme (WFP), Mr Tesema Negash, yesterday confirmed that the floods are likely to get worse or remain at the same level up to the end of October or early November. He said the districts to be affected most include Soroti, Bukedea, Katakwi, Kumi, Pallisa, Budaka, Sironko and parts of Kaberamaido.


    "We can no longer use our trucks to deliver food to the affected areas as they get stuck everywhere but tomorrow (Monday) we are getting one helicopter from Sudan to airlift food supplies to the affected populations," he said by telephone.


    He said WFP, already over-stretched by the Karamoja crisis, the Kisoro refugee crisis and up to 1 million IDPs who are still in the campus in northern and eastern Uganda urgently needs funding to fill the gap. "We urgently need $28.8 million to contain the crises up to the end of the year," he said.

    Diseases

    Another aid official on the ground in eastern Uganda on Friday said malaria and asthma are the major illnesses particularly in children and the elderly, in addition to the risk of a looming outbreak of Cholera, dysentery and other water-borne diseases.


    "Everything including beddings, is wet and the children and the elderly are shivering from the cold," the official who did not want to be named for protocol reasons, said by telephone. "Whole sub counties have been cut off and if the situation does not improve, then there could be a need to airlift people to nearby districts."


    Accessibility and lack of food is a major problem because all the stored grains and dried foods have been submerged in water. Additionally, the rains are expected to bring about widespread landslides particularly in eastern Uganda, which is prone to the phenomenon.

    The small and newly created district of Amuria is hardest-hit by the rain, the heaviest in 35 years, which has also destroyed 18 bridges so far.


    "Right now I am driving with a coffin to pick up bodies of a woman and her child who drowned yesterday. Many people have been trapped and the death toll may shoot to above 10," said Amuria LC 5 Chairman Julius Ochen.

    The stormy downpour also cut short a UN helicopter trip carrying government officials and journalists on Saturday. Mr Ochen said he was to meet with other LC 5 chairpersons in the regions "to see if we can agree to generally propose that the Teso region be declared a disaster zone."


    Reports said the UN would divert helicopters from Sudan to help with the distribution of emergency aid including food, fresh water, tarpaulins and medication from today.


    The Commissioner of the Department of Meteorology, Mr Stephen Magezi told Daily Monitor in his office on Friday that the country and the region in general are experiencing La Nina conditions, a phenomenon when oceans are cooling faster, hence causing the rainy season to come earlier.


    Many farmlands that had been prepared for planting and the crops that were planted in July-August (the normal planting season) have been washed away by the rains that have been measured in the range of 200 per cent above the long - term average.


    But as if the floods are not bad enough, the officials said there is certainly going to be a looming food crisis and severe famine in most parts of the country, which could go on up to 2009. All these mean that money will have to be diverted from other budgets to handle emergency situations that seem inevitable.


    To make things even worse, a severe dry season will start immediately after the heavy rains, according to Mr Magezi.


    But the real cost of the rains and flooding cannot be quantified in monetary floods when damage to infrastructure like roads, buildings and losses in business due to inability to opearate because of the weather are considered. The bill is expected to be in several billions of shillings.

    Govt warned

    It has also emerged that government departments and ministries were warned about the looming heavy rains but took no action. While opening a workshop of the World Meteorology Organisation at Entebbe last week, Mr Magezi decried the little support to weather forecasting in developing countries like Uganda. His Meteorological Department gets Shs500 million in development expenditure per year; yet it requires at least Shs3 billion to perform to capacity.


    "Today more than ever before, Ministries of Finance and Economic Planning can no longer afford to neglect weather and climate services," he said. "Anyone in this era of a changing and indeed changed climate who plans without taking into account weather and climate issues is likely to pay higher price in terms of unfulfilled expectations."

  • #2
    Re: Uganda: Epidemics, Famine Coming After Floods

    UN AGENCY SEEKS $65 MILLION TO FEED 1.7 MILLION VICTIMS OF FLOODS, CONFLICT IN UGANDA

    UN AGENCY SEEKS $65 MILLION TO FEED 1.7 MILLION VICTIMS OF FLOODS, CONFLICT IN UGANDA
    New York, Sep 18 2007 10:00AM
    The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) <" http://www.wfp.org/english/<wbr>?ModuleID=137&Key=2642">appealed today for $64.6 million to feed up to 1.7 million people in Uganda until March to stave off hunger for victims of severe floods, refugees and others displaced by conflict and civil strife.

    “We are struggling to meet both existing and new, growing needs in Uganda,” WFP Country Director Tesema Negash said. “We particularly need cash now so that we can buy food locally and move it swiftly to those who need it most. Our teams are on the ground distributing food to flood victims, but access is difficult and without new funds, everything is in jeopardy.”

    While widespread flooding has recently affected at least 300,000 people, Uganda is trying to cope at the same time with an influx of several thousand potential asylum-seekers fleeing fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as well as with 1.4 million refugees and internally displaced persons (<"http://www.unhcr.org/protect<wbr>/3b84c7e23.html">IDPs) within the country.

    A September assessment underway in the north-eastern region of Karamoja may also recommend continued WFP assistance for 500,000 people affected by drought, straining resources even further and the number of those in need of food because of floods could rise beyond the current estimate of 300,000.

    In addition to food, WFP needs funds for helicopters, boats and emergency repairs to bridges to reach people in villages cut off by rising waters. With rains forecast to continue through October, access could become even worse in the flooded Teso, Lango and Bugisu regions.
    <script><!-- D(["mb","\u003cbr /\>The $64.6 million shortfall until March also threatens to force WFP to cut food rations for displaced families in strife-torn northern Uganda as they head home at last after years in crowded camps. In August, WFP fed 122,600 people returning in Acholiland.\u003cbr /\>\u003cbr /\>“Without new contributions we will have to stop giving returnee rations just when these people need support to rebuild their lives,” Mr. Negash said. “If we can’t deliver, it’s like falling at the last hurdle and it would be a sad way to usher in peace.”\u003cbr /\>\u003cbr /\>In northern Uganda, WFP food rations are vital for more than 1.2 million people who were uprooted from their homes and forced into camps by the 20-year conflict between the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Government forces.\u003cbr /\>\u003cbr /\>Slow but steady security improvements over the past two years, coupled with peace talks between the parties have encouraged some families to leave the camps to go home or to nearby transit sites, from where they walk daily to their fields.\u003cbr /\> 2007-09-18 00:00:00.000\u003cbr /\>\u003cbr /\>\u003cbr /\>___________________\u003cbr /\>\u003cbr /\>For more details go to UN News Centre at \u003ca onclick\u003d\"return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)\" href\u003d\"http://www.un.org/news\" target\u003d_blank\>http://www.un.org/news\u003c/a\>\u003cbr /\>To listen to news and in-depth programmes from UN Radio go to: \u003ca onclick\u003d\"return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)\" href\u003d\"http://radio.un.org/\" target\u003d_blank\>http://radio.un.org/\u003c/a\>\u003cbr /\>______________________________\u003cwbr /\>_\u003cbr /\>\u003cbr /\>To change your profile or unsubscribe go to:\u003cbr /\>\u003ca onclick\u003d\"return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)\" href\u003d\"http://www.un.org/apps/news/email/\" target\u003d_blank\>http://www.un.org/apps/news\u003cwbr /\>/email/\u003c/a\>\u003cbr /\>\u003c/div\>",0] ); //--></script>
    The $64.6 million shortfall until March also threatens to force WFP to cut food rations for displaced families in strife-torn northern Uganda as they head home at last after years in crowded camps. In August, WFP fed 122,600 people returning in Acholiland.

    “Without new contributions we will have to stop giving returnee rations just when these people need support to rebuild their lives,” Mr. Negash said. “If we can’t deliver, it’s like falling at the last hurdle and it would be a sad way to usher in peace.”

    In northern Uganda, WFP food rations are vital for more than 1.2 million people who were uprooted from their homes and forced into camps by the 20-year conflict between the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Government forces.

    Slow but steady security improvements over the past two years, coupled with peace talks between the parties have encouraged some families to leave the camps to go home or to nearby transit sites, from where they walk daily to their fields.
    2007-09-18 00:00:00.000


    ___________________

    For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news
    To listen to news and in-depth programmes from UN Radio go to: http://radio.un.org/
    ______________________________<wbr>_

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