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Emergency assistance reaching thousands after landslides in Uganda

A girl carries her brother in front of tents used to house the displaced at the Bulucheke tent camp, in Uganda.

By Chulho Hyun

BUDUDA DISTRICT, Uganda, 16 March 2010 – Two weeks after deadly landslides engulfed three villages in eastern Uganda, emergency assistance is reaching those who need it. But continued heavy rains and flooding have raised the fear that similar landslides may occur in neighbouring districts.

In response, the Ugandan Minister for Disaster Preparedness said that the Government is considering resettling between 500,000 and one million people from the vulnerable mountainous areas – specifically the slopes around Mt. Elgon and the mountainous areas of Kigezi and Rwenzori in the southwest.

Supplies for the displaced

The 1 March landslides killed more than 80 people and displaced thousands more. At the Bulucheke tent camp – established by the Government for those affected – around 3,000 people have already registered to receive assistance.

Four primary schools were forced to close due to the flooding.

Children collect water from a storage tank, installed with UNICEF assistance, at the Bulucheke camp.

‘A ticking time bomb’

As Butaleja District’s residents begin to return to their homes, health authorities and relief workers are turning their attention to the submerged pit latrines and the pools of stagnant water that dot the area. Such conditions pose the double threat of malaria and cholera – a combination of disease that one UNICEF staff member called a “ticking time bomb” in this post-flood situation.

To stave off these and other diseases, UNICEF is supporting the Government and its non-governmental partners in organizing water purification at the household level. It is also working to distribute more than 5,000 insecticide-treated mosquito nets as a malaria prevention and protection measure.

Such emergency aid efforts represent the culmination of a UNICEF response and preparedness plan that was developed jointly with the Ugandan Government in 2009.



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