Subsistence farmers in Uganda unprepared for April rains. Severe food shortages predicted.
Subsistence farmers across the country have been caught off guard by the torrential rains due to a Ministry of Disaster Preparedness announcement issued just over a week ago.
In the announcement the Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Tarsis Kabwegyere, warned of tough times ahead. He called on households to save seed, to refrain from sale of their harvests and to restrict their water use because a long dry season lay ahead.
However the rains began this week, surprising many people in the country.
In Kabale, municipal authorities who have been caught up in the excitement of the elections, paid little attention to the drainage system in their town. As a results, the town center has this week been flooded because of the uncontrolled water runoff from surrounding mountains and hills.
There are fears that if the rains continue, Kabale will experience devastating mudslides of the kind seen in Bududa district last year.
The LC3 chairman of Hamurwa sub-county, James Kabatereine, says heavy rain has already washed away gardens and livestock have been killed by floods. He says roads are destroyed and access to public services is limited.
Kabatereine says some rain was expected, but it wasn’t anticipated that the season would be this strong. He says his council is looking for funds to dig trenches and terraces in order to improve the hillside.
In the northern Ugandan district of Gulu, farmers there are facing a challenge of a different kind.
The assistant Gulu Chief Administrative Officer for disaster management, Charles Uma, says farmers in Palaro and Patiko sub-counties are at risk of losing their fields to floods. He says they are likely to face the same problems of water logged fields that devastated more than 2,000 small farms in June and July last year.
Uma advises that farmers should begin building drainages around their fields before the rains intensify.
The Gulu authorities are warning that if flooding occurs, the district will be hit with a serious famine.
Michael Onencan, the District Secretary for Production says the people most at risk are residents of Palaro, Awach and Paicho sub-counties. He says crops like cassava, simsim and beans are likely to be in short supply and so measures should be taken now to ensure there is enough food for the population.