By Adam Nuwamanya
The beginnings of wet seasons, which people wait for as a relief from dry spells, have turned into disastrous and fatal seasons after some rivers burst their banks.
This scourge has been entirely blamed on improper and unplanned land use, increased by urbanisation plus poor drainage systems.
Makerere University Hydrology scholar Dr. Max Kigobe says the public’s interest lies in them executing their economic activities with less cognizance of climate change amidst the nation’s low investment in research.
According to Kigobe, people’s practices of improper land use and Urbanisation during the dry spell affects the soil’s inability to absorb water when rain comes, hence sliding and filling up rivers.
“You have rainfall coming up, but because of that loss of vegetation in the system which God planned, then water just comes and flows down to streams, and there, we have lost it,” explains Dr. Max Kigobe.
Dr. Kigobe further explains that rivers bursting their banks has nothing to do with the geological set up of an area or its terrain but only the attention paid to climate change patterns.
“So, we have to think smart; how is our basin located, is it only in Uganda, is it only in Kenya, Tanzania, but the whole of the Nile basin can be affected,” added Kigobe.
Academician and Makerere University Vice Chancellor Professor Nawangwe implores people to desist from destroying the flora which would assist in absorbing excess water that is not absorbed by the misused soil structure.
“All the trees on mountains were cut, so when the water comes, it just goes, there is nothing to absorb it,” elucidates Prof. Nawangwe.
According Prof. Nawangwe, the government’s prioritization of research would harness prevention of disaster outcomes instead of dealing with disaster aftermaths.
“We can do research in two ways; one, what can we do, may be to reinstate the environment which was there, the other one is, can we at least tell in advance when such things are going to happen so that the population is warned and then people are evacuated in time?’
Dr. Kigobe further blames stakeholders in Ministries of Education, Disaster Preparedness, Water and Environment for only concentrating on Policies rather than research, which would be able to foretell such environmental calamities.
“Government has a very big challenge because most times, most of these need research. They don’t have integrated thinking and planning, but, at the same time Ministry of water has to coordinate other ministries of disaster and education to think of a harmonised way forward.”
Rivers bursting their banks have been seasonal characteristics of rivers like Nyamwamba in Kasese and the worst came to its exposure with the fatal flooding of R. Nabuyonga in Mbale which has taken scores of lives.