By Nicholas Shawn Mugarura and Vivian Aita
Supported by United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Care and Assistance for Forced Migrants (CAFOMI) recently distributed non-Food items (NFIs) in eastern Uganda.
The NFIs were distributed to 2000 households affected by the December 2019 floods, landslides, and windstorms in Bududa and Sironko districts.
The initiative is part of a project titled “WASH Rapid Response in the flood affected areas” Funded by United Nations CERF and Implemented by IOM in partnership with CAFOMI. This project aims to improve sanitation and hygiene in the most affected sub counties of Zesui and Busulani in Sironko district and Bubita, Bukalasi and Buwale in Bududa district.
The floods and landslides destroyed existing Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure like the Gravity flow water system (GFS), pipelines, tap stands and latrines. It also limited the affected communities from accessing safe water and sanitation facilities.
54 years old Nasijje Christine, a resident of Nabodi in Bududa district who is also a mother of five vividly recalls the fateful day of the disaster. She says it begun by drizzling in the lowlands for like two days. They didn’t give it that much attention, though they could notice the water level of river Manafwa increasing at a higher rate than usual.
“By night fall, the situation was a bit normal, but at around 10 PM, my brother came running to me, river Manafwa had broken its banks. Water had entered into my brother’s house and was advancing to mine too. We carried a few things and slept outside the house.” Nasijje elaborated.
The whole night was full of cloudbursts and by morning water had swept off houses, latrines, crops, livestock and many other things,” she narrated. “The disaster left the community exposed to poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, but we are grateful that CAFOMI is supporting us with these WASH items, they will help in solving hygiene issues.” Nasijje greatly appreciated.
The Sanitation and Hygiene officer at CAFOMI, Charles Kizito who was also the team leader of the NFI distribution, said that the NFI distribution exercise was successful.
All the 2000 households that were worst hit by the disaster received hygiene kits as planned, the items included buckets, basins, jerry cans, laundry and bathing soap, toothbrush and tooth paste, tippy tap- jerry cans and a menstruation kit.
The Bududa and Sironko district officials and the Covid-19 task force issued to us a letter of no objection that approved and guided the plans and measures put in place to ensure that we observe the Ministry of Health standard operating procedures (SOPs) and safety during distribution with the existing Covid-19 pandemic. Kizito added.
“Despite the mountainous, valley terrains, and sometimes impassable feeder roads in the area, we managed to support even the villages where cars couldn’t reach. I appreciate the District officials and the entire distribution team including village local leaders and volunteers who participated in the distribution exercise.” Kizito said.
Robert Nambadi, principal assistant secretary, CAO’s office and disaster Focal person Sironko district, said, they have been facing challenges in water sanitation and hygiene. Latrines and water pipelines were washed away leaving people exposed to poor sanitation and hygiene condition
Nambadi appreciates partners that are coming up to support the affected communities, he appreciates CAFOMI in particular for supporting in Covid-19 response, provision of Mobile toilets and hygiene kits, rehabilitating of latrines, and constructing GFS and protected water springs. He said the intervention will greatly improve WASH in Sironko and improve the health of the communities.
The WASH rapid response project will be able to fill some gaps in the WASH sector, but there is still need for more support to these communities, the numbers are still high compared to those provided with facilities. CAFOMI is calling upon humanitarian and development partners to come on board to support in solving some of the challenges still existing in Bududa and Sironko districts.