Floods in Kisoro and Kasese district causing hunger and desperation among small-scale farming communities
Kasese and Kisoro districts were hit by floods this month with devastating effects to small scale farmers, including destroying crop gardens, homes, market access roads, displacing hundreds and killing livestock among others. This comes at the time when Uganda has directed most of the resources and attention toward fighting the spread and impact of COVID-19. ESAFF Kasese district farmer leader Ms. Pangani Beatrice recounts that whenever river Nyamwamba, Mubuku and Nyamughasana overflows, the entire Nyamwamba valley hosting the areas of Kibenge, Kyarumba, Bugoye Sub counties and Nyamwamba division experiences flooding profusely. Ms. Pangani anticipates hunger since whenever flooding occurs in Kasese district, it has a great impact on food production and food security.
Floods continue to disrupt agricultural production and other livelihood activities in the district whenever rivers burst their banks. Hundreds of small scale farmers and other residents lose their crops, animals while many displaced and relocated to other areas, thereby making them unproductive. Mr. Tumusiime Sebastian, a small scale farmer from Nyamwamba division in Kasese district and a father of seven, says that he lost maize in the store that he had planned to feed his children yet even crops in the gardens like tomatoes, beans and maize crops were also destroyed. He is also servicing a loan. Mr. Tumusiime Sebastian added that he saw water sweeping the maize store and everything was submerged as he was trying to save his young children together with his wife. Small-scale farmers like Mr. Tumusiime Sebastian are now putting their hopes in the government of Uganda to provide solutions since they have lost their crops towards the harvesting period.
Ms. Mugisha Lydia, a small scale farmer in Kisoro district, says floods are disrupting and hindering food production, adding that as a result, hunger and food prices are bound to increase. She said that the effects of floods on food production have already been felt hard in Murora, Nyarusiza and Bulamba Sub counties. She adds that the production of Irish potatoes is damaged yet the ravaged sub counties are the hubs of Irish potatoes production in Kisoro district. Ms. Pangani Beatrice, small-scale farmers leader from Kasese district contends that sweet potatoes, maize and bean enterprises in Kasese has been much devastated by floods. We used to get the sweet potatoes from Nyamwamba valley, but after the disaster, we are afraid the production is no more and the prices will go up, she notes.
The Bulembya Sub County, LC3, Mr. Kasoke, says at least 65 homesteads and several acres of maize, tomatoes, banana and beans were damaged and livestock swept by floods. Mr. Kasoke adds that the affected villages include Bulembya, Sebwe and Omugando. The Chairperson says the central government should speedily provide aid to the affected families, repair damaged infrastructure and find a lasting solution to the continuous floods.
Hon. Saidi Kisuki, the Nyamwamba Sub-county LC3, reports that the destruction caused by floods from the mountains this year is high. We actually need over Shs10 million as a sub-county to re-channel this water back to its original stream so that we minimize such losses in future. Unfortunately, we dont have that money. We appeal to the NGOs, district and other well-wishers to come to our rescue and save the situation, otherwise we are unable as a sub-county and our people are suffering, he says. Further, Mr. Kisuki called that there is need to integrate soil conservation activities in the district disaster management plan in all sectors so that we can mitigate the floods and their effects through community sensitization to adopt proper methods of farming across the district. Mr. Kisuki, says his sub county like other local governments environmental departments are underfunded. We cannot do much to mitigate floods without funds. We only operate on a Shs 3 million budget for the whole year and only Shs 1 million per quarter. We are waiting for government through the district to come to rescue the sub counties ravaged by floods he states.
ESAFF Uganda re-echoes the call to the government of Uganda to increase financing to the agriculture sector in-line with the 2014 Malabo Declaration to be able to enhance resilience of livelihoods and production systems which would be very important during this period. The 2014 Malabo Declaration contributes to other goals like ending hunger, tripling intra-African trade in agricultural goods and services and ensuring that agriculture contributes significantly to poverty reduction. Increasing investment in the sector would also increase its budget allocation to the local government which would strengthen the capacity of local government to address such calamities. Mr. Hakim Baliraine, the ESAFF Chairperson called upon government to not only look at damages on schools, bridges and hospitals but also asses the impacts of floods to small scale farming in the districts. Mr. Hakim adds that small scale farmers shouldnt only be supported by food aid but other post flood disaster recovery support like farm inputs, financial support and other materials for quick production recovery. Mr. Hakim advised that small scale farmers and other citizens living around disaster prone areas be strictly monitored and be relocated to safer areas. ESAFF Uganda will continue sharing information and strengthening small scale farmer leaders to sensitize the farming communities about the dangers of disasters and mitigation actions he concluded.
ESAFF Uganda trusts that the government of Uganda is taking lessons from the occurrences of floods in Kasese and Kisoro districts and other disaster prone areas as heavy rains continue in the country. ESAFF Uganda notes that these disasters can affect the gains that have been made toward achieving Vision 2040 and the SDGs.