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Revisiting Nametsi 10-Years After Landslides

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Our reporter visited Namesti Sub County over the weekend to see how the area looks like ten years after the disaster, considered to be worst in Bugisu region. The shadows of the agony caused by the disaster still linger in the lives of many landslide survivors.
02 Mar 2020 11:51
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March 1st, 2020 marked exactly ten years since landslides hit Bushika Sub County in Bududa district. Triggered by heavy rains, the landslides buried Nametsi, Namakansa and Kubewo villages in Namesti parish, Bushika Sub county claiming more than 200 people and displaced hundreds of others.

Our reporter visited Namesti Sub County over the weekend to see how the area looks like ten years after the disaster, considered to be worst in Bugisu region. The shadows of the agony caused by the disaster still linger in the lives of many landslide survivors.  

A Health Center III, Primary Schools and other social amenities that existed in the area are no more. The schools were closed down by government due to their sorry state. Currently, learner trek over 10 kilometers to access education services in the neighboring sub counties.    

Despite this, residents seem to have learnt nothing from the 2010 calamity, which claimed the lives of their loved ones and property. A person visiting the area for the first time might not imagine the disaster that hit the area. Residents have revived their home and their gardens. Residents are engaged in bananas, cabbages, onions and tomatoes among other crops. 

The population is also immensely growing like people were never relocated. The only sign of the disaster are the two excavators that were deployed by government to exhume bodies trapped in the rubble after the 2010 landslides and a small wooden cross planted in memory of the victims.

75-year-old Peter Weboya, a retired teacher is one of the survivors of the landslides, which claimed some of his family members. He has since reconstructed a house in the same place where the landslides occurred. According to Weboya, government should come to their rescue and re-open the closed schools to allow their children acquire education.          

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Asked why he returned to Nametsi, Weboya says he was left behind when government relocated other survivors, which prompted him to set up home. “I had no alternative. I had to find ways of surviving that is why I came back here to till the same land so that I can be able to educate my children,” he said.        

Aidah Wekooye was one of those relocated to Kiriyandongo camp but has since returned to Nametsi. According to Wekooye, he abandoned the camp after losing her child to the poor living conditions in the camp. She explains that when she and her family arrived in the resettlement house they were never allocated a house despite various promises from government.

Wekooye explains that she waited for a house to start life in vain until she got fed up and decided to return to Nametsi. “I was on the second lot of people who left for Kiriyandongo in October 2010. Soon as we reached the camp, they only gave us tarpaulins to erect tents for shelter that we would stay in for a while as we wait for houses to be built” said Wekooye.    

She explains that the tent in which her, children and her husband were living in became old and got torn, they built a small hut while waiting for the promised house and for three years no house was built for them. Wekoye is currently farming to sustain her children and husband who remained at the camp in Kiriyandong. 

Godfrey Watenga, the Luteshe County Member of Parliament, says the population of the area has grown much higher than it was ten years ago. “Due to the appalling conditions in Kiryandong, people have been forced to resettle on their ancestral land. OPM failed to deliver most promises they made to the people before shifting them,” he said.  

Watenga notes that government promised the affected people better housing units, education for their children and land for farming, which were never delivered. The Bududa LC V Chairperson, Wilson Watila, says the Education and Sports Ministry scrapped funding from primary schools that operated in the area despite their pleas to government to reopen the schools.  

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John Baptist Nambeshe, the Manjiya County MP, who was then the Bududa district LC V Chairperson, says the Office of the Prime Minister developed a policy indicating that it would take over landslide prune areas, restore and gazzete them as protected areas.  

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Watila several landslides have hit the district since 2010, which have claimed a number of lives. He however, says little has been done to install establish early warning systems and relocate people from the landslide prone areas.