PROVIDING LIFESAVING SUPPORT TO KASESE FLOOD VICTIMS

Oxfam and local partner FURA are responding to the flood-affected areas in Kasese district, targeting evacuation centres/camps like Nkaiga Church of Uganda camp in Maliba sub-county, Kabukero C.O.U, Kanamba, and Kivengenyi seed secondary school in Karusandara sub-county, Kyarumba catholic church camp, Kyarumba primary school and Bwitho Parish in Kyarumba sub-county and Kiraro primary school in Kitholu sub-county. The response worth 50,000 euros is aimed at giving lifesaving support to the flood victims, including the provision of 1,100 hygiene kits (jerrycans, water buckets) for safe water storage and soap, to ensure safe hygiene practices like regular hand washing. Regarding water provision, Oxfam also aims to rehabilitate boreholes and springs that were damaged by the floods and landslides in Karusandara, Kyarumba and Kitholu sub-counties.

Project onset

Fifty-six-year-old Bwambale Sokwere is a married father of five whose life was turned upside down in an instant when one night during May 2020 he was awoken by a strange smell and people screaming, shouting and blowing whistles. They were all echoing that they should leave their home and get to safety. As soon as he heard this, he sprang into action. He notified his family and they evacuated the premises with only the clothes on their backs and were met with a violent rush of water flowing from the hills.

Sokwere’s home is located in the low lands between two rivers, almost 4 metres from the banks of River Kitakena on one side. “For three days, we were stranded on both sides, with no access to food. The water was too fast and too much that we could not cross.” he recounts. “This big river was once just a narrow stream, but look at the devastation it is causing now,” he said.

In May 2020, Kasese district was hit by a wave of flash floods that caused a lot of destruction along their way. Due to heavy rains, rivers like Nyamwamba, Mobuku and Lhubiriha which originate from the surrounding mountains, filled leading to their banks bursting and causing floods.

These floods not only claimed lives but also displaced over 10,000 people, including Sokwere and Mbusa Mitusera a 29-year-old living in Nkaiga Church of Uganda camp with his 2 children, pregnant wife and father. He also lost his home when the banks of River Mobuku in Kasese burst and caused flash floods. “I lost a lot, my home, my garden and my animals,” he says. “I am glad that my family survived this flood; although I know we have a long way to go to be fine.”

Temporary evacuation camps were established to accommodate the displaced people in places like schools and churches. Nkaiga Church of Uganda camp is at the community church. “Some of the challenges we face here at the camp include limited access to clean water for drinking since all the pipelines were swept away, and we have only two latrines supporting over 50 people one for men, one for women. This latrine is almost full, and now people are starting to defecate in the open.” He noted.

“I am really expectant of the support that we have been told about,” says Mbusa

COMMUNITY VOICES ON HYGIENE KITS 

Joy Biira, 29

Joy Biira is a 29-year-old mother of two who lost her husband when the flash floods in Kiraro, Kitholu, Kiraro sub-county caused landslides in her home. “I have faced several challenges since my husband died, it is tough, but I have to forge forward with my children. I had some savings which enabled me to buy some vegetables and maize which I roast for money”.

Kiraro is located in Kitholu sub-county, in the hills of Kasese district near DR Congo border. When the heavy rains began, the people living in this area faced two challenges, floods and landslides. The landslides washed away homes and gardens and the floods caused the washing away of the only access bridge leading to Kitholu, This made access to Kitholu impossible, and only allowed for the provision of support after the water levels receded.

“The landslides also damaged our springs, and now I have no choice but to drink directly from the river. I think that’s why my children have been having cases of stomach pain and diarrhoea. I heard that Oxfam and FURA are coming to support us and repair our springs and also give us some items for water. I hope that when I use these materials, they will solve the problem of my children’s running stomachs,” says Joy.

Mbambu Uniah, 83

I have 5 children, all grown up. I live with 3 of my grandchildren. I was asleep when I felt the ground shaking. I woke up and heard people shouting; that's when I knew that landslides were happening. Upon going outside, I saw that my farm had been swept away, and the land tears/scars were just a few feet from my house. I am glad I survived because I had nowhere and no strength to run. 

I had never harvested from my garden and now I only depend on the food we are given here at the camp, which is every after 4 days. I have to make sure that my grandchildren are well fed.

I used to take water directly from the stream; but with the rains, it became very dirty and gladly, we were given aqua tabs which helped us to filter the water for us to drink. But I had one jerrycan which I used to store all my water - for home use and drinking, so I felt like my tabs were being misused.

Now that I have a jerrycan and a bucket, it is going to get easier. I can now separate my water for drinking and other home use, and now I have more storage. I am glad.

Joseph Kabisa, 50

I was born and raised here in Kiraro and as the rains continue, I keep seeing worse destruction than before. The landslides swept away my garden, where I had planted beans, bananas, and cassava so now I have no food to give my wife and 8 children. I am glad that we all escaped unharmed, and that our house was not swept away. I went back to the house but my wife and children are staying at the camp. I have to go back to try and restart farming. 

Previously I used to store drinking water in my jerrycan and I am glad I have never fallen sick from any water-borne disease, nor my family. Drinking clean and boiled water is not a new thing to me but I just did not have enough storage. Now that I do, I am going to do as I have been guided by the Oxfam team and I will use these items. I also encouraged my family to always wash their hands with soap and clean water and the soap provided is going to help us immensely.

Felix Rujumba, 39

My garden was washed away by the landslides. I had coffee, cassava, bananas and also animals. Fortunately for me, I had gone with my wife and 6 children to take care of my father who was unwell. That is when the rains began and my house, as well as my garden, were washed away.

Initially, I would just go to the river and drink the water directly. It was the same for my family; but now, with the jerrycan and bucket, I am going to intentionally teach my family to store clean water for drinking.