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Rampant Drowning in Seasonal Water Bodies Worry Aswa Region Police

Since April 2021, at the onset of heavy rains in the region to date, police has recorded 10 cases of death arising from drowning due to torrential rains that increased the water volumes.
27 Oct 2021 16:53
Fast flowing water at lower Aswa River in Atiak Sub-County at the border between Lamwo and Amuru Districts. Photo by Dominic Ochola

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Aswa River Region Police have threatened to arrest parents for negligence following escalating cases of deaths involving juveniles who drown in seasonal water bodies.

Rivers such as Unyama and Aswa that flow across districts of Omoro, Pader, Gulu and Amuru; Tochi and Ayugi that flows in Omoro and Nwoya respectively, Pager in Kitgum and Ajan in Pader annually claims several lives of teenagers seeking to swim.

Since April 2021, at the onset of heavy rains in the region to date, police has recorded 10 cases of death arising from drowning due to torrential rains that increased the water volumes. 

The latest incident involved a 13-year-old Ivan Opiyo of Opelom village, Kal Ali parish, Paicho Sub-County in Gulu District who drowned in stagnant water at a murrum quarry site on 12 October 2021.

Another 12-year- old male juvenile, Isaac Onen Mugisha, resident of Awalaboro village in Palaro Sub-County still in Gulu district drowned in Aswa River on 12 October 2021 and his body was not retrieved.

Belington Olweny P’Ongwech, the Gulu District Secretary of Health, Education and Community Based Services regretted the unfortunate deaths arising from drowning and advised police to do a thorough investigation before reprimanding parents or guardians.

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The Aswa Region Police Spokesperson David Ongom Mudong says most of the victims are the children who go swimming, old people who cross water bodies to access their gardens, and the drunkards.

“As far as the children are concerned, we as the police are warning the parents who leave their children unattended to play or swim in the waters that they risk being arrested and charged with negligent acts,” Mudong said.

The Police have also laid down strict measures regarding carrying out a post-mortem on drowned bodies to counter the possibility of sabotage by criminals who murder and dump dead bodies in the waters to divert the investigations.

“Much as the core mandate of the police is to protect lives and property, it's also notable that we cannot be everywhere and therefore we call for collective responsibility of various stakeholders to take part in sensitizing the masses against the vice.

In 2021, the recorded more than 10 incidences of drowning, and six of the cases were recorded in Amuru District. The 2020 annual police report indicates that up to 138 cases of drowning were reported across the country with the majority of cases being reported on Lake Victoria, followed by Albert, Kyoga, Edward, George and Kazinga channel.