Five years later, govt has only resettled 7% of landslide victims in Elgon

Special Reports
Five years later, govt has only resettled 7% of landslide victims in Elgon
At least 41 people killed in eastern Bududa district after heavy rains caused landslide | Courtesy-Al Jazeera

BUDUDA | In a bid to address the longstanding issue of landslides in Bududa and across the Elgon region, the government has taken a significant step forward with the delivery of cash resettlement packages to affected households.

Since 1979, Bududa has been plagued by landslides, resulting in the tragic loss of lives and properties.

In 2012, the government pledged to embark on a phased resettlement project for over 100,000 people at risk of disasters in the Elgon, Rwenzori, and Kigezi sub-regions over a 10-year period, starting with the Elgon region.

Unveiled in Bulambuli District in 2018 by the then prime minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, this initiative was envisioned to serve as a model for Africa and the world over.

As part of this effort, the government began constructing the first 900 houses in 2018 to eventually resettle victims of landslides in the Elgon region.

However, less than 350 houses have been completed and delivered to landslide victims so far. Constriction has been put on halt in pursuit of an efficient and cost-effective alternative, officials say.

Nevertheless, hope has been renewed following the launch of the cash resettlement package.

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja unveiled the Shs10 million grant to the first batch of 274 beneficiaries in Bududa.

The government grants is supplement by the Shs7 million grant from Give Directly, a humanitarian nonprofit organisation, to make Shs17 million per household.

Some 1,714 households have received Shs7 million from the NGO awaiting the government's commitment.

Whereas Give Directly grants are non-conditional, the prime minister stressed that the Shs10 million contribution from government will only be given to beneficiaries upon signing transfer agreements to pave way for government takeover of land for restoration activity.

Landslide buried several households in Bududa in October 2018 | Courtesy

Overall, the cash resettlement initiative aims to cover 4,827 households across the Elgon sub-region.

There are 2,050 in Bududa, 900 in Manafwa, 500 in Namisindwa, and 500 in Sironko district.

Others are 107 in Mbale, 133 in Kapchorwa, 173 in Bukwo, 210 in Bulambuli, and 254 Kween.

Disbursed directly to beneficiaries' mobile phones, the grants are intended to facilitate relocation from high-risk areas to safe zones.

The government has also earmarked 2 acres of land in Bunambutye, Bulambuli District, transport and relief food to each of the households, in addition to the Shs17 million.

Nabbanja stressed the government's commitment to the safety of its citizens, granting beneficiaries discretion in fund utilisation while stressing the necessity of vacating hazardous areas.

“Want we don’t what to see is people perishing,” she said. “Instead of bringing a grader to exhume dead bodies we will forcefully remove you alive.”

Recipients of the grant have three months to prepare and relocate. The Office of the Prime Minister pledged additional support including provision of relief food and free transport to those willing to go to Bulambuli.

Agness Nandutu, the area Woman MP, says the move is a great milestone after a long struggle.

The State Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness, and Refugees, Ms Lillian Aber, has underscored the importance of collective efforts between the ministry and local government for the successful implementation of the resettlement programme.

She said it was critical to comply.

"Those who remain behind and get engulfed by disaster will have done a big disservice to this country," Aber said.

Bududa District Chairperson Milton Kamoti has proposed the creation of a satellite town for subsequent resettlement of people in landslide-prone areas.

He also advocated for the establishment of a disaster management fund at the local government level to facilitate emergency responses, timely relocation of households, restoration of degraded areas, and sustainable environmental management.

Kamoti emphasized the importance of enforcing policies related to sustainable environmental management and increasing awareness about disaster risk reduction measures.

Five years down the road, remains unclear whether the government will meet its target of resettling 100,000 people in 10 years.

Approximately 500 people have perished in mudslides, dozens of children orphaned, livelihood and un-estimated property destroyed in the Elgon region in a decade and 4 years and still counting.

Death Toll

  • March 2010: 350+, Nametsi village, Bududa
  • Aug 2011: 30 Sisiyi Sub-county, Buambuli
  • March 2013: 6 Sironko
  • June 2012: 18 Sironko
  • Oct 2018:  45+ people in Sume Bukalasi Bududa
  • June 2019: 6 people, Buwali Subcounty, Bududa
  • Dec 2019: 40, Bushika Subcounty Bududa
  • May 2023: 05, Masugu village,Buluganya Subcounty, Bulambuli district.

Over 130 households that were displaced by river Nyamwamba in 2020 still languish in an IDP camp in Muhokya Town Council, Kasese District, awaiting resettlement.

However, their resettlement depends on the success in the Elgon region.

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