Mbale Rockslide Victims Sleep Under Tree

By 7:30pm on Wednesday, Mulumba and his family members were preparing their beds under a tree, their home for the last two nights.
The boulder that hit Mulumba\'s house on Wanale Hill in Mbale district on Wednesday night.

Audio 3

Twelve survivors of the Wednesday night rockslide in Wanale Sub County in Mbale district are stranded as they have nowhere to go after their house was partially destroyed by a huge boulder that rolled down from Mount Elgon.

42-year-old Geoffrey Mulumba together with his 11 other family members, residents of Bukhamoli A Village, spent their second night in the cold under a tree. On Wednesday night when the incident occurred they fled their house and slept under the same tree next to their damaged house.

Mulumba says, they cannot risk sleeping in the house, part of which has been destroyed. He said the house has been weakened by the heavy rains and strong wind that forced the rockslide. He says that sleeping in that house is like taking his family into a trap as a landslide could bury them anytime.

When URN visited their devastated home on Thursday evening, Mulumba together with his family were found gathered under the tree.

His 20-year-old daughter, Caroline Nambooze, explains that that they had just finished supper at the living room when they heard a loud noise of a crack. She said her father shouted asking them to run out when something heavy struck the roof.

Namboze says when they ran out they saw a big stone that had just hit their house as it rolled down from Wanale Hill. She says it had rained heavily from around 1 to 4pm.

//Cue in: “As we were here yesterday…

Cue out: …no one was destroyed.”//

Mary Mulumba, the mother of the children, says they will continue sleeping in the cold until they get humanitarian assistance. She explains that this is the third time they are experiencing such a life-threatening rockslide.

She said the first was in 1997, then in 2010 when heavy rains forced the rock to roll from the mountain that hit and destroyed their house but fortunately no one was at home at the time of the incident. She says they cannot relocate anywhere near their home as all the homes on Wanale ridge at the foothills of Mount Elgon are at high risk of another disaster.

//Cue out: “This is the new house…

Cue in: …down where we are staying.”//

Mrs. Mulumba says they are aware of the health implications of sleeping in the cold especially on their children, but that they have no option.

By 7:30pm when URN reporter was leaving his home, Mulumba and his family members were preparing their beds under the tree.

Stephen Wamukota, the regional manager of Uganda Red Cross Society, says they have identified a total of 58 households at a high risk in Bukhamoli A village. They have appealed to government to ensure they are evacuated immediately. He says Red Cross will mobilize relief items and give the family as they find alternative places to relocate.

//Cue in: “We have also identified…

Cuie out: …it is a risky place.”//

The affected areas surround the more than 20 km-long Wanale ridge overlooking Mbale towns.

Residents who stay on the slopes trek uphill using the winding main road or footpaths that cut across the slopes. Top on the hill are sprouting farm crops as the area remains the main supplier of fresh foods like carrots, ginger, Irish potatoes cow peas and beans among others in Bugisu region.