Leaders and landslide survivors living in high-risk areas in Bugisu Sub-region have asked the government to speed up the new resettlement exercise.
On May 27, the State Minister of Relief and Disaster Preparedness, Ms Davinia Esther Anyakun, recently said the government was in the final stages of giving each family Shs17 million to resettle themselves.
“We are in the final stages, and cash worth Shs17 million is going to be given to the identified families starting this week in the pilot districts, where 4,000 homesteads have been identified,” Ms Anyakun, said. She made the remarks during the burial of five members of a family who died in a landslide at Masugu Village, Buluganya Parish, Buluganya Sub-county in Bulambuli District, last month.
Ms Anyakun’s statement comes months after Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja said $8.47m (about Shs32 billion) would be released to affected people in Bududa, Manafwa, Namisindwa, and Sironko districts.
Ms Grace Nanduga, a resident of Masugu Village, on Tuesday said they are yet to receive the money and also information regarding the resettlement programme that was launched last August. “We have not seen anything yet, not even a government official to sensitise us on the programme. We are living in fear whenever it rains. We need to move to safe places before we are caught unaware,” he said. Ms Gloria Namakoye, a teacher and a resident of Masugu, said she is tired of the government’s ‘empty promises’. “Government has left people on their own but they are only quick to come for burial and pay Shs5 million. Make pledges and go away,” she said.
The Chairperson of Bududa District, Mr Milton Kamoti, said locals should relocate with immediate effect because of looming landslides. “We ask the government to expedite the relocation process before we lose more people to landslides,”Mr Kamoti said. He expressed disappointment with the government, saying since 2019, only 110 out of the identified 500 households have been resettled from the Bududa. The government started the resettlement of landslide victims from mostly the districts of Bududa, Sironko, Bulambuli, Manafwa, and Namisindwa to Bulambuli in 2019. Close to 300 families, comprising more than 5,000 people have so far been resettled and each resettled family gets three acres of land to build houses and for farming. Mr Joseph Watenga, an environmental expert, said the relocation plan has been moving on at a very slow pace. “But we hope that giving the affected people money will expedite their relocation from the landslide-prone areas,”Mr Watenga said. Mr Isaac Madoi, the Lutsheshe County Member of Parliament in Bududa District, said cracks have formed in the sub-counties of Bulucheke, Bubiita,Bumayoka,Nakatsi, Bukalasi and Bukibokolo, among others. “Our people are having sleepless nights because they are scared that disaster might strike at any time,” Mr Madoi, said. After the 2010 Nametsi landslides, the government set up an inter-ministerial committee and Cabinet sub-committee chaired by then First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen Moses Ali, to establish the population at high risk of landslides in Bududa, Bulambuli, Sironko, and Manafwa districts. The committee resolved to relocate 100,000 people from landslides and launched a 10-year resettlement plan dubbed “Resettlement of landless persons and persons at risk of landslides”. The plan was supposed to be implemented in a phased manner with 10,000 people being relocated every year.
However, Ms Annet Nandudu, the Bulambuli District chairperson, said implementation of the resettlement plan hit a snag. She said Ms Anyakun’s May 27 statement could signal that the government has abandoned the 2010 resettlement plan. “Most of the people in Bulambuli live in hilly areas that are prone to landslides, and these have been earmarked for resettlement, but only a handful of them have been resettled,” she said.
Mr Steven Masiga, a researcher, called for the establishment of a ministry in-charge of Bugisu affairs to handle, among other things, disaster response.
“With a ministry, we can employ qualified meteorologists to predict the weather forecast and warn our people to relocate temporarily in case of heavy rains and landslides,” he said.