The team will subsequently make recommendations to government for possible relocation and resettlement of the affected populations, Information Minister Mary Karooro Okurut said in a statement today.
The ministerial team will cover not just the Bududa area but will also carry out a risk assessment for the entire Bugisu and Sebei sub regions covering the districts of Kapchorwa, Kween, Bukwo, Manafwa, Sironko, Bududa and Mbale and Bulambuli). The subcommittee includes the Ministries of Water and Environment, Education, Health, Office of the Prime Minister and Agriculture.
Many mountainous areas of Uganda continue to face the problem of landslides but recently the situation has been more pronounced and more disastrous in Bugisu and most notably Bududa district.
“Studies have shown that the occurrence of landslides in Bugisu sub region is not new. It is a historical phenomenon that dates back to the 17th century and even periods before that,” said Karooro.
“Owing to the mountainous terrain of the area and the loose volcanic soils, the area has always been prone to and will continue to experience landslides,” she added.
Karooro, however, noted the situation has been exacerbated by the degradation of the environment.
Landslides have in the past buried villages in Bududa, killing scores with the recent disaster killing at least 19.
Residents have on several occasions refused to vacate the landslide-threatened areas, despite calls from government.
“To address this challenge, and the unfortunate consequent loss of life and property, the government is working on a programme for a lasting solution to the problem of landslides in the sub region,” said Karooro.
The government will work with community leaders in the affected regions to look at a range of options which include identifying land in Bugisu and Sebei that does not pose any danger of landslides and resettle people in demarcated plots.
“Such an area will be urbanised to provide social amenities like schools and health facilities. The people will in this case be going back to their original land for farming and other economic activities,” said Karooro.
Bugisu and Sebei sub regions are very densely populated areas and thus there is a possibility of failure to get huge expanses of land to resettle all the people that are at risk, according to Karooro.
In this situation where land may not be available in Bugisu and Sebei the government will look further in other parts of the country.
Depending on which option that the government will finally come up with, the different ministries will play different roles to ensure the success of the programme.
The Ministry of Health will thus look at the health needs and this will involve either construction of new health centres or upgrading of existing ones to meet the challenges of increased population.
The Ministry of Education will attend to education needs by (if there is need) constructing new schools or facilitating the relocation of pupils to the neighbouring schools.
Then the Minister of Water and Environment will ensure that there is provision of safe and sanitation facilities.
As part of this plan, the Ministry of Agriculture will address the issue of food security and to ensure that the affected families are able to sustain themselves in the long run.
The Office of the Prime Minister, (Directorate of Disaster Management) will coordinate the whole exercise and offer relief where necessary during the transition period.
“We are calling upon all Ugandans especially community leaders to support this initiative,” said Karooro.