Uganda at risk of catastrophic flooding after Kenya, Tanzania battered

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Uganda at risk of catastrophic flooding after Kenya, Tanzania battered
People are rescued from the floods | Courtesy-BBC

The Leader of the Opposition, Mr Joel Ssenyonyi, has called on the government to provide an update to Ugandans regarding their preparedness to prevent a potential climatic catastrophe similar to the ongoing situation in Kenya and Tanzania.

Ssenyonyi highlighted the escalating water levels at Lake Victoria, raising concerns about Uganda's readiness to address such a situation.

"Climate change is a harsh reality that is affecting us profoundly. We have witnessed the devastating effects in distant countries like Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Some people believed it was far away, but now it is right at our doorstep," he said.

Ssenyonyi cited the destructive impact of torrential downpours in neighbouring Kenya.

"Reports indicate that over 200 people have tragically lost their lives due to severe flooding. Around 100 individuals remain missing, 170,000 have been displaced, and the situation is expected to deteriorate."

He questioned the government's commitment to the proposed Disaster Management Bill, which failed to materialise in 2018.

"Perhaps we should introduce it as a private member's bill to establish a solid foundation. Without proper planning, allocating funds would be pointless. Here in Uganda, we are facing imminent threats, as the Uganda National Meteorological Authority has warned us that the situation will worsen," Ssenyonyi said.

Recently, the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) forecasted continued wet conditions across most parts of the country, with heavy to very heavy rainfall expected in specific regions.

According to the authority, regions such as Kigezi and Greater Bushenyi districts in the southwestern region will experience significant rainfall.

Similarly, the northeastern districts of the Karamoja sub-region and neighboring Acholi sub-region should prepare for substantial rainfall.

Speaker Anitah Among urged the Minister of Disaster Preparedness to provide an update on Uganda's readiness to mitigate any potential disasters within the country.

"Last week, we discussed the disasters occurring in various areas, which are worsening in Kenya. Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in Kenya," she said.

"We need information from the Minister of Disaster regarding the actions taken, especially in the areas we discussed. We want to know how prepared we are as Ugandans to handle the disaster that may strike our country. How will we manage it?"

Kenya and Tanzania have been bracing themselves for a cyclone following torrential rains and devastating floods that have claimed nearly 400 lives in East Africa, displacing tens of thousands of people.

The latest weather forecast predicts that Cyclone Hidaya will make landfall on the eastern coast of Tanzania.

The cyclone is also expected to bring more rainfall to neighboring Kenya, including the major coastal city of Mombasa.

In Kenya alone, floods have already resulted in at least 210 fatalities since March, with 125 people injured, 90 missing, and 165,500 displaced, according to updated figures from the Ministry of Interior and National Administration.

In anticipation of the cyclone, Kenya has ordered mandatory evacuations for residents near 178 dams and water reservoirs in 33 counties, while urging citizens to remain vigilant.

The heavy rains have been exacerbated by the El Nino weather pattern, a naturally occurring climate phenomenon associated with increased heat worldwide, leading to droughts in some regions and heavy downpours in others.

In addition to Kenya, intense downpours have caused the loss of life and displacement of communities in Tanzania, Burundi, and other parts of East Africa.

During the last rainy season in late 2023, East Africa experienced record floods. Scientists attribute these extreme weather events to climate change, which is causing more frequent and intense natural disasters.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his sadness over the loss of life and damage caused by flash flooding in several parts of Kenya, according to a statement from his spokesman.

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