There is growing concern of the situation of indigenous peoples of the Rwenzori Region and other parts of Uganda, where several factors, including natural disasters, are having a devastating impact on economic development and human security. Natural calamities such as floods and landslides have a significant impact on the human rights of local communities in Uganda. Floods have had a significant impact on the human rights of people living in the Rwenzori Mountains especially in Kasese and Bundibugyo districts in Uganda.

Right to life: Floods have continuously posed a threat to the lives of individuals in Western Uganda. Rapidly running water and flash floods have resulted in drowning or injuries, potentially leading to loss of life. In August 2022, two bodies of flood victims were retrieved from River Nyamwamba and River Dunguluha. One was of Linas Masereka, a 17-year-old Senior One student of Kilembe Secondary School while in September 2020 eight people died in floods and mudslides that hit parts of Kasese District on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after River Thaku burst its banks.

Right to adequate standard of living: Floods destroyed homes, infrastructure, and belongings, leaving people displaced and without access to basic necessities such as food, safe water, and shelter. This directly violates the right to an adequate standard of living. Most furious rivers were Nyamugasani, Mubuku, Nyamwamba and Rwimi, which wash away the bridges, gardens, and property worth USD 3million across the district.

Right to health: Flood waters became contaminated with pollutants, sewage, and other harmful substances, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases. Lack of sanitation facilities and overcrowded temporary shelters for instance in Muhokya IDP camp further jeopardize the health and well-being of the affected population. In 2020, Kilembe Hospital in Kasese district was destroyed by the floods. The community joined the medical workers to rescue patients to nearby structures as running water swept through the wards, destroying drugs and other medical equipment. The river also swept away several homes along the way, displacing many and destroying property.

Right to education: Floods in Kasese have continuously disrupted education systems, damaging schools and forcing children to miss out on their right to education. Displaced families still struggle to send their children to school due to financial constraints or the unavailability of nearby educational facilities. In 20202, When floods hit Kasese, the most affected included Bulembia Primary school, which lost all its primary four to primary seven classroom blocks, Katiri Primary whose main class block was covered by silt, and Royal Rangers Secondary School that lost all its structures.

Right to livelihood: Floods continue to devastate agricultural lands, livestock, and infrastructure, affecting the ability of communities to earn a living. This causes severe economic impacts, deprivation, and violation of the right to work and the right to an adequate standard of living.

Right to information: Access to timely and accurate information about weather alerts, evacuation procedures, and relief efforts is crucial during flooding situations. Lack of access to information can hinder people’s ability to make informed decisions and protect themselves.

In light of these potential human rights impacts, Community organizations such as the Shirikisha Civic Organization of East Africa (SCO EA) and local communities are trying to work together to mitigate the effects of floods and ensure the protection of human rights in affected areas.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law.

The Writer is a Global Coordinator at Shirikisha Civic Organization of East Africa.

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Kameli Zepha Bwambale
Kameli Zephaniah Bwambale (Uganda) is an African Business and Community Leader, Writer and Business Development Professional working to transform Africa through Business and Community Leadership. He is the National & Global Coordinator at Shirikisha Civic Organization of East Africa-SCOEA Secretary to the Board and Managing Director at Musingika Tourism Company Limited (Uganda's Youngest CEO of the Year 2022 and Top20 Tourism Writer of Year 2022) He has worked as a Business Trainer, Consultant and Business coach at Uganda Small Scale Industries Association (USSIA) and Rwenzori Albertine Regional Trade Association (RARTA) He is a graduate of the University of Georgia, USA), the Humanitarian Leadership Academy (UK) and Kabale University (Uganda) He is a Board Member at YOPSA Financial Services Ltd, Kasese Tourism Investor's Forum , Kalu Mart Health Centre and Green Girls and Women Conservation Program-Uganda He is an alumnus YALI Regional Leadership Center East Africa at Kenyatta University and participant United Nations Global Compact pursuing tourism, climate change, environmental conservation, Civic engagement, financial inclusion and social entrepreneurship agenda for transforming Africa.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I am rapturous to see the writer addressing the global about the calamities invading the RWENZORI region in Uganda especially Kasese. We call upon for helping hand to safeguard the residents.
    Thank you so much Mr BWAMBALE

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