UNICEF and partners strengthen local leaders’ capacity to better prepare and respond to emergencies

When communities are prepared to cope and respond to emergencies, the impact is minimal, and many lives and property can be saved

By Proscovia Nakibuuka Mbonye
disaster preparedness, risk reduction, emergency preparedness and response, flooding, floods, mudslides, landslides, Uganda, UNICEF, Japan, Government of Japan, Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda Red Cross, Bundibugyo, district disaster management committees, DDMCs
UNICEF Uganda/2021/Adriko
15 September 2021

In Uganda and many parts of the world, emergencies and disasters result into devastating impact.  More often, children are the most affected. One hilly and mountainous district in Uganda that is prone to natural disasters such as flooding, and landslides is Bundibugyo District located in the Rwenzori region, Western Uganda. The severe flooding that happened two years ago, washing away homes, roads, crops, and killing many  didn’t leave the district and its population the same Worse still, the district continues to be affected by heavy rains that cause massive flash floods, water logging, landslides and in some areas formulation of crater lakes following cave in of land surfaces. In the absence of emergency preparedness and response measures, the impact of these disasters is much worse. 

To mitigate the impact and reduce the reoccurrence of the emergencies in Bundibugyo and other districts in Uganda, UNICEF with financial assistance from the Government of Japan, has partnered with the Office of the Prime Minister and Uganda Red Cross to build capacity of disaster management committee members from districts and sub counties frequently affected by flooding, mudslides, disease outbreaks, prolonged dry sells,. The targeted districts include Bundibugyo and Kasese in western Uganda; Obongi and Koboko in northern Uganda; Nakapiripirit and Karenga in north Eastern Uganda. 

BUNDIBUGYO, A DISTRICT PRONE TO FLOODING AND LANDSLIDES 

disaster preparedness, risk reduction, emergency preparedness and response, flooding, floods, mudslides, landslides, Uganda, UNICEF, Japan, Government of Japan, Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda Red Cross, Bundibugyo, district disaster management committees, DDMCs
UNICEF Uganda/2021/Adriko

Following floods that hit Kirumya Sub County in Bundibugyo District, a section of the road was washed away by landslides and the impact continues whenever it rains. Communities residing next to the cliff remain at risk. Equipped with knowledge from the UNICEF-supported trainings on disaster preparedness, the sub county leaders are mobilizing communities to move to other locations before another disaster strikes. 

disaster preparedness, risk reduction, emergency preparedness and response, flooding, floods, mudslides, landslides, Uganda, UNICEF, Japan, Government of Japan, Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda Red Cross, Bundibugyo, district disaster management committees, DDMCs
UNICEF Uganda/2021/Adriko

Zephania Ahebwa from Kirumya Town Council shows a bed stuck in soil next to a wooden portion that remains of a door of their house swept by floods in December 2020. Nine members of Ahebwa’s family were displaced thereafter. “We lost all the household items from blankets to utensils,” he Ahebwa. With early warning and preparedness, the impact of such disasters would have been less saving lives, homes and livelihoods especially for vulnerable families like that of Ahebwa.

disaster preparedness, risk reduction, emergency preparedness and response, flooding, floods, mudslides, landslides, Uganda, UNICEF, Japan, Government of Japan, Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda Red Cross, Bundibugyo, district disaster management committees, DDMCs
UNICEF Uganda/2021/Adriko

It’s almost a year now (December 2020) but 66-year-old Evaketi Kabonesa (centre), vividly recalls what happened when her family was affected by floods that displaced over 100 people in the area. “I lost my sofa set, beddings, utensils, suitcases of clothes. I and my children lost everything. We were displaced and moved to a church in nearby village,” she narrates. Today, all her children are around her, having nothing to do, after all they had was lost. When communities are unprepared for disasters, the impact and suffering lasts longer, and affects their livelihoods sometimes pushing them into poverty. 

disaster preparedness, risk reduction, emergency preparedness and response, flooding, floods, mudslides, landslides, Uganda, UNICEF, Japan, Government of Japan, Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda Red Cross, Bundibugyo, district disaster management committees, DDMCs
UNICEF Uganda/2021/Adriko

Following the heavy rains and landslides in Nyankiro Parish, Bundibuyo District between 2018 and 2021, a crater lake the residents have since named Nyankiro was formed after a cave in of the land surface. The lake has since displaced about 150 families, led to loss of several acres of cocoa plantations and remains a major risk to communities especially children. 

disaster preparedness, risk reduction, emergency preparedness and response, flooding, floods, mudslides, landslides, Uganda, UNICEF, Japan, Government of Japan, Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda Red Cross, Bundibugyo, district disaster management committees, DDMCs
UNICEF Uganda/2021/Adriko

To mitigate the impact and reduce the reoccurrence of emergencies, UNICEF in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister and Uganda Red Cross Society, is strengthening local capacities on emergency preparedness and response mainly targeting the highest risk disaster districts in Northern, North Eastern and South Western sub-regions, including Bundibugyo. The interventions are funded by the Government of Japan. 

disaster preparedness, risk reduction, emergency preparedness and response, flooding, floods, mudslides, landslides, Uganda, UNICEF, Japan, Government of Japan, Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda Red Cross, Bundibugyo, district disaster management committees, DDMCs
UNICEF Uganda/2021/Adriko

During the trainings, members of the disaster management committees at district and sub county level, mapped out all possible hazards affecting their districts. They later developed a costed disaster contingency planning that would be adopted by the district with support from the Office of the Prime Minister for implementation. With costed plans in place, districts will be able to plan better and respond faster to save lives, property and minimize risk. 

disaster preparedness, risk reduction, emergency preparedness and response, flooding, floods, mudslides, landslides, Uganda, UNICEF, Japan, Government of Japan, Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda Red Cross, Bundibugyo, district disaster management committees, DDMCs
UNICEF Uganda/2021/Adriko

Strengthening the capacities of frontline responders will ensure quick response for children and communities during emergencies. The UNICEF-supported trainings, focused on prevention, preparedness, response, to disasters and resilience building of affected communities.