Uganda: Flood Victims Hosted At Schools Stranded As Candidates Return

People who were displaced by rising water levels in Lake Kyoga and settled at various public schools in Nakasongola District are pondering their next move after government announced plans to reopen schools for candidate classes.

The flood victims from 18 fishing landing sites totaling up to 1,800 have been hosted at the public schools since April while others are sleeping in churches.

"We are unsettled as district leaders because we must have a relocation plan for families that are currently hosted at the public schools because they will open for candidate classes on October 15 as planned by government," Mr Sam Kigula, the Nakasongola District chairperson, said in an interview last Saturday.

"We have received relief items, including the food and some tarpaulins, two times since the month of May but our worry now is about families that are staying at the different public schools," he added.

Mr Kigula revealed that they had hoped that the flood victims would be resettled on Kyalubanga Central Forest Reserve land as directed by President Museveni but the process is very slow.

Ms Margaret Komuhangi, the district Woman Member of Parliament, named some of the schools hosting the flood victims as Katuba Primary School, Busone Primary School and Kimaga Primary school.

"As leaders in Nakasongola, our plans are for a permanent relocation of the flood victims but the fact that some of the families now occupy school premises, which candidates are going to use, is a big concern," Ms Komuhangi told Daily Monitor.

"The children cannot share the same space with the displaced families because of the Covid-19 guidelines, including many other social problems that make such schools not fit for the candidate classes," she added.

Nabiswera Sub-county chairperson David Sserubombwe said many parents in his area are wondering how their children in candidate classes will attend schools currently hosting the displaced families.

"We have about 40 households that have camped at Katuba Primary School since April. We are yet to get information from the relevant government departments on how the children will mix up with the families whose members move out to look for the basics, including food, and return to the school," Mr Sserubombwe explained.

But Local Government minister Raphael Magyezi in an interview explained that government has a relocation plan where different districts that have displaced flood victims were tasked to identify some free public land for their permanent relocation.

"Let me find out from my commissioner the current status for Nakasongola District. I will brief you by Monday [today]," Mr Magyezi said.

Meanwhile, a section of other people displaced by rising water levels in

Lake Victoria have started returning to their homes despite concerns about their safety.

Between March and June, thousands of people occupying the lake shores and some islands were displaced after water submerged various landing sites in various districts near Lake Victoria. Since then, the victims have been temporarily housed in makeshift houses on the mainland.

Government had directed local leaders in the affected districts to look for public land where flood victims can permanently be resettled. However, before government implements the planned resettlement, some victims have started returning to their homes, claiming the program has delayed.

Masaka District alone has close to 20,000 flood victims who were displaced from the landing sites of Lambu, Kaziru, Kisuku , Malembo and Kachanga in March. "Government should allow us return to the landing sites because it has no clear programme for us," Mr Samuel Ssemwanga, a fisherman at Lambu Landing Site, said.

According to Mr Willy Lugoloobi, the Kalangala District chairperson, the district has not received any assistance from government to resettle the displaced people.

"Good enough the water levels are now going down, and those who want to go back can start moving, but they should keep away from the protected buffer zones," Mr Lugoloobi said.

Landing sites that were affected in Kalangala include Kaaya, Ssemawundo and Kitobo in Bufumira Sub-county, and Senero, Kasekulo and Kaazi Malanga in Mugoye Sub-county

In Jinja the story is not different. Those displaced from three Islands of Wabitooke, Samoka, Kisima I and Kisima II have also started returning to their homes as water levels recede.

Mr Andrew Musana, a councilor representing Walukuba and Masese in Jinja South Division, said the fishermen who have started returning risk losing their lives.

"As local leaders, we wrote letters to government to help resettle those people but we have not got a response yet. It will be risky for those people to return to those islands and government should swiftly work out a clear resettlement plan for them," he said.

Compiled by Dan Wandera, Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Denis Edema & Sylvester Ssemugenyi

Source: The Monitor

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