Explaining the Kasese Floods

By Aijuka Andrew, Uganda

The Rwenzori region in the western part of Uganda has experienced for several years a series of destructive floods, landslides and heavy rains that end up causing the Nyamwamba, Mubuku, Nyamughasana and Lhubiriha Rivers to burst. 

Availed statistics show that the region continues to register death of human beings and the destruction of crops with thousands left homeless.

In May and November 2020, the region once again experienced flush rains and floods that led to the displacement of hundreds of households and destruction of property worthbillions of Ugandan shillings.

The region is prone to annual environment and climatic challenges that have deterred development. Some environmentalists say this is because the water catchment areas in the region have been destroyed.

Jeconious Musingwire, the manager for the national environment watchdog – NEMA, explains and relates the floods to the destruction of bogs. 

A bog or bog land is a wetland that accumulates peat, a deposit of dead plant material—often mosses, and in a majority of cases, sphagnum moss. It is one of the four main types of wetlands. Other names for bogs include mire, mosses, quagmire, and muskeg.

These deep wetlands are the basins of holding water. However according to Musingwire, an accidental fire either caused by hunters or natural cause destroyed the would-be catchment areas hence bringing about the water to flow to the community without control.

The main purpose of the bogs is to infiltrate, to control the flow of water from the forest cover and the melting snow. The degradation of the bogs reduces the holding capacity of water for a long period of time and renders them nonfunctional.

Due to the non-functionality of the bogs, the rain comes as flash rains because it has nowhere to be held for some time and allowed to flow naturally. Despite the degradation of wetlands, the surrounding river banks are already degraded by human activity.

The forest cover is spread over the borders between Uganda and Democratic Republic Congo and ecological impacts  know no boundaries and so the rains in the Congo forest eventually affects the downstream communities of the Rwenzori ranges.

Musingwire suggests a holistic landscape planning and management. Which calls for going upstream and investigating the cause as highlighted by the environmentalist.

“If these bog wetlands need to be restored, they are restored. If we are to increase the tree cover in high altitude, we compliment reforestation and afforestation.”

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