Floods in Eastern Uganda kill at least 30 people and leave 400,000 without access to clean water

Posted by
Jonathan Chapman
on
5 August 2022
WaterAid/ James Kiyimba

Bodies of at least 30 people have already been recovered from the flood waters around the town of Mbale at the foot of Mount Elgon in Eastern Uganda, including those of two 6-year-old children found today. Hundreds of thousands of people have been cut off from their fresh water supply and sewages have been damaged, triggering concerns about disease outbreaks, WaterAid said.

Forecasters predict the heavy rain will continue through August. But it’s estimated that 5,600 have been displaced from Mbale City alone and 400,000 people have already been cut off from the national water grid. Latrines and sewage systems have been damaged, polluting the environment. Furthermore, food shortages could result from 5000 acres of crops being destroyed.

WaterAid has expressed deep concern at the human cost of this latest environmental tragedy in an area where they have recently completed a project to build community resilience to climate shocks for water and sanitation.

Jane Mselle Sembuche, the Country Director for WaterAid Uganda said:

“With limited access to essential health care services for submerged areas, consequences of unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are bound to cause a cocktail of diarrheal diseases. Malnutrition is projected to set in as many families have lost their source of livelihood – crops, and livestock. The trend of events might spark cases of domestic violence and social imbalance.”

The Mbale city response team is currently organising 200 mobile toilets, hand washing facilities and water treatment tablets.

Sembuche calls for a greater focus on safeguarding communities from such climate events. “People need water, sanitation and hygiene to thrive – without these basics, they can’t be resilient to anything. That means we need to protect WASH facilities from climate change impacts where possible and strengthen community resilience from these extreme weather events. This will help them bounce back from climate change disasters more quickly.”

“We need a much greater focus on sustainable, resilient sanitation when working on climate change adaptation,” she added.

Further north, the Karamoja region of Uganda has been affected by the severe drought which has mainly impacted the Horn of Africa.

“These are the kind of future challenges of either floods or drought which we are increasingly facing,” said Sembuche. “It is truly time to act now - and invest in adaptation measures for those living on the frontline of the climate crisis.”

ENDS

For more information, please contact:

In London: Jonathan Chapman [email protected] or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552

In Kampala: Alex Busingye [email protected]

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Notes to Editors:

WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 28 million people with clean water and nearly 29 million people with decent toilets.

For more information, visit our website wateraid.org/uk, follow us on Twitter @WaterAidUK, @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress, or find us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.

  1. WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020. Joint Monitoring Programme. Geneva: World Health Organisation.  
  2. WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020. Joint Monitoring Programme. Geneva: World Health Organisation.  
  3. WaterAid calculations based on: Prüss-Ustün A, et al. (2019). Burden of Disease from Inadequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Selected Adverse Health Outcomes: An Updated Analysis with a Focus on Low- and Middle-Income Countries. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. vol 222, no 5, pp 765-777. AND The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2020) Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. Seattle, WA: University of Washington.  
  4. World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage  
  5. www.wateraid.org