At least 30 bodies, including those of two 6-year-old children, have already been pulled from the flood waters surrounding the town of Mbale in eastern Uganda, which is located at the base of Mount Elgon. According to WaterAid, hundreds of thousands of people have lost access to their fresh water supply, and sewage systems have been destroyed, raising fears about disease epidemics.
According to forecasters, the torrential downpour will last through August. However, it’s estimated that 400,000 people have already lost access to the national water grid, and 5,600 people have been uprooted from Mbale City alone. Damaged sewage and latrine systems have contaminated the ecosystem. Furthermore, the destruction of 5000 acres of crops could lead to food shortages. WaterAid recently finished a project to increase community resilience to climate shocks for water and sanitation, and they have expressed extreme concern about the human cost of this most recent environmental tragedy in that area.
WaterAid Uganda’s Country Director, Jane Mselle Sembuche stated that with inadequate access to key health care services for regions under water, the effects of unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are certain to generate a cocktail of diarrheal diseases. As a result of the loss of many people’s primary sources of income—their crops and livestock—malnutrition is predicted to become a problem. The current course of events could lead to an increase in domestic violence and socioeconomic inequality.
200 portable restrooms, hand washing stations, and water treatment tablets are being organized by the Mbale city response team at the moment. Sembuche urges a stronger emphasis on defending communities against such climate disasters. People cannot be resilient to anything without the bare necessities of water, sanitation, and hygiene. This calls for strengthening community resilience to these extreme weather events and protecting WASH facilities from the effects of climate change when it is feasible. This will hasten their recovery from natural calamities brought on by climate change.
When working on climate change adaptation, there is need to focus much more on sustainable, resilient sanitation. The severe drought that has primarily plagued the Horn of Africa has also affected Uganda’s Karamoja area, which is located further north. In the future, issues like this due to droughts or floods are expected. In order to help people who are most affected by the climate disaster, urgent action is needed right away.