At least 24 people have died and more than 5,600 people have been displaced by flash floods in eastern Uganda.
Two rivers burst their banks after heavy rains swept through Mbale town over the weekend, submerging homes, shops and roads and uprooting water pipes. About 400,000 people were left without clean water and more than 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) of crops were destroyed.
Rescue efforts have been hampered by the rainfall, with a number of areas still inaccessible.
“The situation is very serious,” said Edward Simiyu of Mercy Corps Uganda. “A lot of medical teams are needed on the ground. Corpses are recovered and more and more people are injured.
Three health centers in Mbale were damaged and many people had to travel up to 100 km to find the nearest hospital.
The government has deployed emergency supplies and is working with aid agencies to provide temporary shelter, but teams on the ground said they were exhausted.
“Many have lost everything and had almost nothing to eat in the last few days. There are young children who have no spare clothes and many families are still looking for their loved ones,” Joseph said. Ssenkumba, from the Association of Ambulance Professionals Uganda.
Simiyu said the flooding was unprecedented. “We think it’s fueled by climate change because we’ve had heavy rains before, but not on this scale,” he said.
Hundreds of people have lost their lives or lost their livelihoods due to flooding in the hilly region of Mbale over the past five years. The impact of extreme weather events has been compounded by the clearing of land for farms and homes.
The Uganda National Meteorological Authority has predicted more rain in eastern Uganda over the next month. Authorities advised people to evacuate the Mbale area and worked to relocate those from areas around Mount Elgon. Only about 2,500 people out of a target of 100,000 have been relocated so far.
Communications Officer in the Prime Minister’s Office, Julius Mucunguzi, said: ‘The long-term solution is to protect the environment, stay away from wetlands, riverbanks and avoid destroying waterways. . Climate change is obvious. You can no longer predict when the rains will come and how intense they will be.
About 300 km north of Mbale, the Karamoja region has experienced severe drought in recent months.
A World Bank report projects that at least 86 million Africans will migrate within their own country by 2050 due to climate change.