12 July 2012
As the Red Cross continues to help people after a landslide in Uganda, which caused at least 18 deaths on 24 June, heavy rains in the region mean thousands more remain at risk.
The landslide ripped through four villages in Bududa district, burying houses in mud. With visible cracks in the soil and continuing rains, assessments by local Red Cross staff indicate 3,368 people are in imminent danger and need to be relocated immediately.
Uganda Red Cross volunteers assisted in search and rescue operations and are distributing essential household items, as well as food provided by the Ugandan government.
British Red Cross support
Karen Peachey, British Red Cross east Africa representative, said: “This area has been hit before. Bududa is part of the mountainous region of Elgon which is very prone to mudslides and we supported a response there last year.
“So far we’ve contributed £20,000 to the Uganda Red Cross’ response to this new disaster, and 240 relief kits containing essential household items, such as cooking pans and jerry cans, which were pre-positioned in the region and immediately available for distribution.”
Last September, the Red Cross responded when many people lost their homes after a landslide in Bulambuli. And in March 2010, a landslide – again in Bududa – killed more than 350 people.
Although the government is urging people in high-risk areas to relocate, there is resistance as families often have strong ancestral ties to the land, which is also very fertile, and they may have nowhere else to go.
However, with Uganda’s rapidly growing population, climate change and farming practices which weaken the soil the risks are only going to increase. And much more needs to be done to help people living on the steep slopes of this mountainous region adapt and find less risky ways of living.
Reducing vulnerability to disasters
The British Red Cross is supporting a Uganda Red Cross programme in eastern Uganda, including Bududa district, which reduces people’s vulnerability to, and the impact of, disasters such as flooding and landslides.
Read more about the programme