President Yoweri Museveni has said government may consider giving cash as compensation for people living in disaster prone areas so that they quickly relocate “instead of the protracted process of resettlement which involves the allocation of planned farms, permanent houses.”
Museveni proposed the new approach of resettlement of people affected by landslides and floods in his condolence message to families that have lost their loved ones in the mountainous Elgon and Rwenzori regions that have of recent had heavy rains that have caused havoc in both areas.
“This is to express condolences to the families of the nine Ugandans that died in the Elgon area and the seventeen Ugandans that died in the Rwenzori area. Condolences also to all Ugandans as a whole,” Museveni said in the message posted on his Facebook Page.
“In order to expedite the evacuation of threatened People, we may have to look at only cash compensation instead of the protracted process of resettlement which involves the allocation of planned farms, permanent houses, These losses, on account of floods and landslides, are, mainly, due to the mistake of insisting on settling (living) in areas that logic and God did not intend for human habitation. “With cash, people can, then, go and fend for themselves,” he said.
The president however urged people to stop living and carrying out dangerous activities in areas like swamps, wetlands, river-banks, and lakeshores) and steep mountains.
“All people in such areas should accept resettlement as we have done with the previous Bududa victims that are now settled in Bulambuli. Those cultivating in the wetlands should accept our plan of changing to fish-farming as we have done in Limoto wetland, Pallisa District,” he said.
The swamps and steep mountains are not for crops and human settlements, he said. “The swamps are for water, and papyrus Undisturbed swamp water is for irrigation and the swamp grasses are for mulching crops.”
He said swamp grass also helps in the manufacture of rain through transpiration. “You normally see mist … along these swamps early in the morning. That is part of that transpiration that, eventually, helps with rain formation.”
Museveni said the swamp grass also filters the water of soil and impurities and, therefore, protects the Lakes from silting filling with soil. Forests and vegetation along steep mountains use their roots to hold the soil and also act as cushion for raindrops hitting the soil so that rain and the run-off water … does not sweep the soil, causing soil erosion and, eventually, landslides. The tree-leaves and canopy also break the force of the raindrops.
The tree-roots and the dropping leaves, also form a soft bed on the forest floor and slows down the speed of …run-off water and forces the water to sink in the soil, thereby replenishing the water-table underground. Instead of water running on the surface and causing destruction, it sinks in the soil, Museveni said.
The president said he would intensify the campaign for the Environment Resettlement Fund so that those who were misled by the Government to go to the wetlands in the 1960s are compensated to get out. “The recent encroachers should simply get out. Condolences, again,” he said.