NEMA Wants More Study On Mt Elgon's 40-Kilometre Crack

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In short
National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is yet to conduct a study to verify reports that Mount Elgon has developed a forty-kilometre crack that could lead to more devastating landslides.

National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is yet to conduct a study to verify reports that Mount Elgon has developed a forty-kilometre crack that could lead to more devastating landslides.
 
Adonia Betorwa, Mount Elgon National Park Chief Warden and several government officials have indicated that an over 40 kilometre crack had developed across a section of Mount Elgon. The crack reportedly stretches from river Lwakhakha on the Uganda-Kenya border through Bududa, Manafa, Mbale and Kapchorwa districts.

Dr. Goretti Kitutu, an Environment Management System specialist with NEMA, told URN in an interview that indeed there are cracks on Mount Elgon but the forty-kilometre crack claim is yet to be scientifically verified.

//Cue in: “People have been talking….
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Dr. Kitutu is one of the NEMA officials that have extensively studied the causes of landslides on Mount Elgon especially in Manjiya County where the latest disaster occurred. At least two villages in Bulucheke Sub County were buried in the June 25, 2012 mudslides. It is still not clear how many people were killed, with the search teams only managing to locate two bodies more than a week after the incident. 10 other people were injured.

Kitutu says small mud flows have been observed on Mount Elgon with many water openings, an indication that the rocks are under tension.  She says some small cracks have been formed due bad farming practices, foot paths as well as road construction on the slopes. 

//Cue in: “Right now we are reporting cracks…..
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Kitutu explained that it would be extremely risky to have anyone settled anywhere below the forty kilometer crack if it actually exists. Some houses in some of the areas have cracks while others are seemingly leaning forward. In some places biog trees are equally leaning forward.

Dr. Festus Bagora, the head of Environmental Monitoring at NEMA has equally done studies on deforested hill tops. He says the leaning forward of houses and trees could be another sign of the cracking effect

//Cue in: “Leaning structures……
Cue out:….telling you that I’m cracking.”//

He says the cracking effect makes the place more vulnerable in the absence of trees that could hold the soil together in the event of heavy rains. The roots, according to Bagora, act like fingers that grab and anchor soil and other materials into rocks and thereby holding the landslips from sliding.
 
Mount Elgon area has experienced several landslides since March 2010 when mudslides buried an entire village in Nametsi in Bududa district killing over 300 people. Government eventually relocated some of the survivors to Kiryandongo district after experts warned of more disaster on the slopes of Mount Elgon.
 
In August 2011, eight people were injured when a landslide struck their home in Simuyu village in Bulucheke Sub-county.

In the same month, at least 29 people died when landslides buried Bulegana and Mabono villages in Bulambuli district. The mudslides also displaced at least 470 people in Manafwa district in May 2011.