More displacements in Uganda as Lake Victoria swells

Saturday May 2 2020

The Water Front Club is invaded by Lake Victoria water in Entebbe as water levels  rise

Once a vibrant luxury place for beach fans, The Water Front Club is invaded by Lake Victoria water in Entebbe as water levels rise. PHOTO | MORGAN MBABAZI | NMG 

JONATHAN KAMOGA
By JONATHAN KAMOGA
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The rising water levels of Lake Victoria have disrupted businesses, destroyed property and displaced thousands of people living and working by its Ugandan shores, even as the same is being experienced in Tanzania and Kenya.

Over 7,000 people have been displaced since February when water inundated the dry lake shores according to the Office of the Prime Minister.

The most affected communities are those on the lake shores on the many islands in the lake, with some risking being submerged. Water has moved more than 13.12 metres ashore, the second highest on record since it rose to 13.46 metres in 1964.

Uganda’s Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Musa Echweru, said that about 1,000 people living on such islands have been relocated.

“We have provided food and tents for shelter, and although we have advised that these islands are not safe for human habitation, many are refusing to be relocated to the mainland,” said Mr Echweru.

Since December last year, the waters of Lake Victoria, shared by Kenya Uganda and Tanzania, have been rising, flooding beaches, residential places and hotels in Uganda and Kenya.

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Property worth millions of shillings in Entebbe and Jinja in Uganda and in Kenya’s Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Homa Bay and Busia have been destroyed. It is the same scenario in Mwanza, Tanzania.

Brunt of the deluge

In Kenya, floods from backflows from the lake and rivers bursting their banks across the country have killed 169 people and displaced several others, as well as bridges washed away disrupting commerce and travel.

Ugandan social media video clips show resorts and posh homes flooded and look like they were built inside the lake.

The Serena Kigo and Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo have also borne the brunt of the deluge.

The increase in the water volume has also had an impact on downstream water bodies like the Lake Kyoga whose water levels have subsequently increased causing a similar menace to the populace around it like its southern counterpart.

Parts of Nakasongola district around Lake Kyoga recently flooded yet it had not rained there. This was attributed to the increase of water volumes entering the lake from upstream. Communities have been displaced by the raging waters.

Transport on the lakes have also been disrupted with ferries run by the Uganda National Roads Authority contending with flooded landing and dock areas.

The roads agency said on Tuesday that a ferry connecting Nakasongola and Amolatar districts had been affected by the increasing water levels.

Entebbe also remains cut off from the biggest Lake Victoria islands of Kalangala districts disrupting business.

The rising lake was also blamed for a nationwide power blackout on April 14 just before President Museveni’s address to the nation on Covid-19.

The State Minister for Environment Beatrice Anywar told The EastAfrican that the government is encouraging voluntary movement of people from the endangered zones.

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