A full-fledged rainy season has washed out bridges in several eastern districts of Uganda and caused 25 deaths, disease, destruction of crops, and danger to livestock. Relief official Harriet Gimbo of the group Action Aid is overseeing Uganda rescue operations in Katakwi in Amoria District, east of the capital Kampala. She says the initial high death toll resulted when people tried to flee to safer ground.
“The specific deaths that have been recorded that are clear, about 25, as a result of water-loggings, and the broken bridges, where people tend to cross on their own and they are swept away by water. And then those ones are contracting malaria and dysentery,” she said.
The Action Aid official says President Yoweri Museveni’s government is taking the lead in trying to restore ground transportation so supplies can get through and rescue efforts can continue.
“Government has attempted to deploy trucks where the roads are spoiled, for them to build there. But of course they are getting affected by the rainy season. Some of the repairs cannot be done as long as it is still raining, especially the major bridges. They have to wait for the rainy season to go down to get adequate repair. But where we have roads running into the rural areas, like the Seroti-Katakwi Road, there are many more repairs that are going on to bring access to those locations, but still not very well done yet,” Gimbo noted.
Deliveries of food and medicine to affected areas have been greatly slowed by bridge and road outages, but Gimbo says that boats and U-N helicopters are helping to pick up the shortfall.
“The deliveries have proved quite difficult because part of the food has to be crossed over using boats. But part of the delivery is being done by helicopter, but of course, they’re also not proficient enough,” she noted.
Because Uganda is one of 18 sub-Saharan countries drenched by an unusually catastrophic wet season, rescuers are being besieged with urgent calls for assistance. Harriet Gimbo says aid organizations are very hard pressed to respond to competing appeals for relief and rehabilitation.
“Of course, the external donations won’t be enough to be able to keep up for all these people. Probably we will all need additional government support. But tentatively, I believe there will be that competition, definitely, on where food is delivered and in what quantities,” she noted.