Government has said that the relocation of families from the landslide prone areas of Bududa and other districts in the Mount Elgon region will commence on November 1.
The decision was arrived at following a meeting between officials from the office of the Prime Minister, Police, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education on Friday evening.
Government confirmed that by then, basic services including; water, schools and health services will be availed for the households that will be relocated to Bulambuli District.
According to State Minister for Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru the relocation exercise will last for six months beginning with 200 of the most vulnerable households.
“We pray that nothing (disastrous) happens between now and that time, because the rains are continuing to pound the mountains. So November 1 will be launch, we didn’t wan to launch when the ground work has not been done including putting basic facilities.”
Ecweru said the National Management Environmental Authority (NEMA) will retain the Bududa land for tree planting.
The minister refuted claims by Manjiya County legislator John Baptist Nambeshe, that the Bulambuli where they want to relocate families is a wetland.
Manjiya had earlier wondered how government would relocate people to a ‘lake’ which is only fit for amphibians.
“The land is literally a lake, and only fit for amphibians,” Nambeshe said.
Ecweru says that Bulambuli only sits on the pathway for water coming from Mt Elgon to Lake Bisina.
A section of Members of Parliament in Bugisu Sub-region led by Nambeshe want landslide victims in Bududa District to be relocated and resettled only in the approved locations within the district.
These say the relocation move would cause more deaths in future since the area which sits on over 2000 acres of land is swampy and prone to flooding.
“The landslide victims should not be relocated to Bulambuli because it would similar to lifting them from a frying pan to fire. It would be wrong to relocate people from one disaster hotspot to another,” Nambeshe said.
In April this year, according to a report from Relief Web, over 2000 residents displaced by landslides in the different villages of Bududa Sub County in Bududa District started seeking refuge in the nearby schools, churches and trading centres.
This followed multiple landslides after a heavy down pour which left several villages affected including Shamwanza, Shiaza, Buhasiru East, Bukhasiru West, Buwaninda, Makalama, Sholelo, Nafunane, Bunateme and Bukhalobo. Several acres of gardens, livestock, and houses were destroyed, though, there were no reports of deaths or injuries.
Previous relocation efforts?
Following landslides that claimed over 600 people in 2010, a cabinet subcommittee headed by the first deputy premier, Gen Moses Ali, was appointed to find a lasting solution.
One of the resolutions of this committee was to relocate the vulnerable people to safer places. Land for relocation and resettlement was identified in Bulambuli in the east and in the district of Kiryandongo.
However, the relocation never happened as government failed to find conflict free land. Meanwhile a smaller group that was relocated to Kiryandongo found resistance from residents there as well as hard life, as the land was infertile yet they were purely farmers.
Kayunga district has also come up as proposed resettlement area, but politicians have argued it is far away from relatives of victims.
Cabinet approved Shs32 billion to be used in the relocation.