The government has secured land to resettle about 1000 families in the disaster-prone areas of Bulambuli district. According to the Office of the Prime Minister the overall number planned for relocation is 5000.
For long most of the hills and low-lying areas of the Elgon region have been deathtraps in waiting, with the landslides of Bududa in March 2010 in which an estimated 100 people died, providing yet the most unforgettable incident in recent times.
Unfortunately, records have indicated that most residents have ‘historical attachments’ to these risky places and are wary of being relocated, even at the risk of losing their lives.
Indeed, some of the recalcitrant residents even argue that the soils in these areas are of high quality, providing an enabling environment for them to feed themselves and also sell off the excess produce. But this type of thinking is sketchy, and should not be entertained.
So, as the Office of the Prime Minister moves to carry out the relocation, there is necessity to educate the populace about the dangers of not agreeing to the plan.
For instance, the residents should be told that in the event that floods or landslides occur, their farming activities will be disrupted and that even their ‘valued’ cash and food crops will be destroyed.
Then there is also the issue of health hazards, with possible outbreaks of water-borne diseases like malaria, bilharzia and diarrhea, which impact negatively on the financial position of the area residents, who have to pay for health services.
The residents should also be encouraged to avoid destroying the environment and instead adopt measures like planting trees and digging trenches, activities which are essential in mitigating the effects of the disasters.
In all these efforts, the Uganda Red Cross Society and other humanitarian agencies can come in handy.