Parliament has lashed out against Government for failing to quickly respond to the raising number of natural disasters that are ravaging different parts of the country caused by heavy rains which are expected to continue to December.
The MPs expressed concern that whereas the country is currently facing a disaster-causing wet season with daily downpours especially in the South, East, and Northern parts of the country, response from the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness has been slow leaving scores of affected persons hopeless.
They said Ugandans have registered loss to property, crops, shelter, and loss of life in some areas but Government is yet to come to their aid.
They for instance highlighted the adverse effect on the transport sector saying that the weather situation has hindered movement in these areas and now access to social services.
During the October 19, plenary session chaired by Speaker, Jacob Oulanya, a number of the MPs that rose on matters of national importance to inform Parliament about the disaster situation in their constituencies and asked the Government to intervene to rescue their people.
MP John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya County) said that the disaster-prone district of Bududa had suffered 17 landslides affecting almost three-quarters of the sub-counties.
He said that while they have not registered any deaths yet, majority of the people had lost property, crops, and livestock.
Nambeshe acknowledged the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja’s efforts to visit the affected areas and making a commitment for a resettlement of displaced persons but added that the program should be implemented expeditiously.
“There has been harassment and eviction of 603 households of people that were relocated to Kiryandongo as internally displaced persons from Bududa after the 2010 landslides that claimed over 500 lives that need urgent attention from relevant authorities,” said Nambeshe.
He said the harassment is by purported landowners of the land where the victims were resettled which they claim belongs to Bunyoro Kitara.
“Five people have so far been killed in cold blood accused of being land grabbers. Government should quickly sort out the issues of the land ownership such that the people can live harmoniously or return the people of Bududa back to their homes,” he added.
The State Minister for Works, Musa Ecweru assured the House that an inter-ministerial meeting had taken place and that Government was coming up with a costed memorandum- A National Disaster Response Plan that will see issues of disaster handled in an acceptable manner.
Napak District Woman MP, Faith Nakut said the flooding situation in Napak due to heavy downpours that have swept away fields, affected roads hindering movement to health centres and markets for food.
She criticized the selective manner in which the disaster issues are being handled claiming that Bududa was affected only recently and has already received response and yet Napak has been suffering since September but is yet to receive response.
“The people of Bududa raised their matter and they got a response immediately but we also need to have a quick response,” She said.
The Speaker guided that even with a response plan in the pipeline there was need for some kind of political presence in the affected districts.
“These matters are of great concern. They affect the people of this country. Those are the ordinary people who we should be helping. Sending a technical team will not present a solution, I need a political presence there,” said Oulanyah
Theodore Ssekikuo (Lwemiyaga County MP) rose on a procedural manner to express concern about how Government is responding to disaster making it seem like the country doesn’t have a disaster Response management policy.
” Do we have a policy that can mitigate these disasters so that we know where to run to in case of disaster, and even are there resources for such matters?” Ssekiubo wondered.
According to Ssekikubo, the weather forecasts were released three months ago and so the Ministry of Disaster should have been prepared to handle any issues that arise because they are happening across the country.
Gaffa Mbwatekamwa (Igara County) rose to seek clarification on when the food relief promised to his constituency will be received because it had delayed and on grounds that the food was being tested at UNBS and that the Government was looking for vehicles to ferry the food to Igara District.
The Government Chief Whip, Thomas Tayebwa responded to the MP, saying that the food relief for Igara had been dispatched and that 46 districts will be receiving food.
He urged the MPs to work together with the Chief Administrative Officers to distribute the food to avoid any issues with distribution.
In conclusion, the Speaker said following debates that had been happening on such issues, a Contingency Fund was created where a percentage (0.5%) of the budget was supposed to automatically go into the Fund to fund any disaster intervention activities.
He said for a few years now, that has not been happening but that it should start happening so that it is known that there’s a provision for such a purpose.