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UNICEF and partners send aid as Uganda floods disrupt life for 60,000 households

© UNICEF Uganda/2007/Hyun
Flood-affected community members receive water-purification tablets distributed by the NGO Light Force International, with UNICEF’s support, in the Lira District of northern Uganda.

By Blue Chevigny

NEW YORK, USA, 27 September 2007 – Extremely heavy rainfall since July has led to flooding across eastern and northern Uganda, affecting approximately 60,000 households, or 400,000 people – 80 per cent of them children and women.

Many homes in the affected areas were built with mud bricks and have crumbled in the wet conditions. The displaced, numbering some 200,000, have found shelter with friends and family members; in camps, many of which are in place from earlier mass displacements; and in school buildings and hospitals.

Many crops have been lost, having rotted either in the fields or in storage facilities. In the most affected areas, two-thirds of all rural families have lost at least  90 per cent of their crops. This situation is expected to result in food insecurity in the coming months.

© UNICEF Uganda/2007/Hyun
Ugandan flood victims in Lira District receive an assortment of emergency shelter and household items.

Water, health and education affected

The flooding has disrupted water and sanitation as well, contaminating water sources and inundating or collapsing many latrines. This has led to concern about the possible outbreak of waterborne diseases, including cholera.

Already, northern Uganda is contending with higher levels of malaria, diarrhoeal diseases and acute respiratory infections typically associated with contaminated water sources and inadequate sanitation. Hospitals and health centres are experiencing shortages of drugs and medications used to treat these illnesses.

Access problems have prevented the usual delivery of these medicines and others, such as antiretroviral drugs used for the treatment of AIDS. 

Ugandan children are suffering the effects of all these problems, along with the disruption of their daily educational routine. Hundreds of primary schools have been damaged by flooding, rendering them unable to open for the new school year as scheduled.

© UNICEF Uganda/2007/Hyun
Students from Abia Primary School in the flood-affected Apala Sub-County of northern Uganda’s Lira District continue their education in temporary tent classrooms provided by UNICEF.

Restoring a sense of normalcy

UNICEF and its partners have provided 1 million doses of measles vaccine and 1.2 million doses of polio vaccine for emergency immunization activities in flood-affected areas of Uganda. Other relief aid includes drug kits for use by medical staff and community health volunteers, and insecticide-treated bednets for use especially by pregnant women and children to prevent malaria.

In addition, UNICEF has set in motion the distribution of hundreds of thousands of water-purification tablets to more than 7,000 families, who will also receive hygiene and water safety education. Treatment of water sources is ongoing.

To restore education and a sense of normalcy for affected children, UNICEF is providing tents to serve as temporary classrooms for more than 150,000 pupils and teachers, and supporting the rehabilitation of sanitation equipment in 49 flood-damaged primary schools.




27 September 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Amy Bennett speaks to UNICEF Representative in Uganda Keith McKenzie about devastating floods in the eastern and northern areas of the country.
AUDIO listen


25 September 2007:
UNICEF Uganda Chief of Communications Chulho Hyun gives UNICEF Radio an assessment of the situation of flood-affected children in northern Uganda.
AUDIO listen

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