By: Ismael Kasooha
The Government of Uganda has earmarked a compensation package of shs.17 million to relocate homesteads settled in landslide prone areas in Elgon region.
The affected homesteads are expected to use that money to relocate to areas of their choice.
This marks a shift from the earlier approach where affected persons were relocated to areas identified by the government. These included Kiryandogo District and Bunabutye in Bulambuli District.
Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, following up on the Cabinet directive, met with Members of Parliament, and Local Government leaders from Elgon Sub region, to set the relocation exercise schedule.
The money will be jointly raised by the government which will contribute shs10m while Give Directly, a development partner will top up with sh7m per homestead.
“We want to ensure that these people relocate to safer areas especially those on cliffs and on top of the dangerous places to avoid a re-occurrence of the past incidents where we lost innocent lives,” said Nabbanja.
Nabbanja emphasized that vacating landslide prone areas will be voluntary. The process will start with those willing to accept compensation of the 17 million per household.
She said that the government will acquire the vacated land for gazettement and plan on re-afforestation of the encroached areas.
Leaders in the respective districts in the Elgon Sub region were urged to speak with one voice and sensitize the affected persons to relocate, as a matter of urgency.
Simon Wamakuyu Mudimi, the Chairperson of Bugisu Parliamentary Caucus who also doubles as the Elgon county MP in Bulambuli District said that the people are eagerly waiting for the compensation.
“As leaders from the area we appreciate the initiative by the government and our people are only waiting for when they shall start being compensated,” said Mudimi.
However, the leaders appealed to the government to ensure that nobody in the landslide risky areas is left out in the programme to save their lives.
Previously before the Mbale floods that killed over 20 people some legislators were opposed to the relocation of their people but this time round they all agreed that saving life was a first priority.
The Minister for Tourism wildlife and Antiquities, Tom Butime cautioned against politicizing the relocation exercise. He said it was now an operational issue and that all line Government institutions get to work together.
“We need to put aside politics in this exercise because what the government aims at is ensuring the lives of the people are safe and free from such calamities,” said Butime.
It was resolved that those who will reject the compensation fee of shs.17 million and are still in high risk areas, will be forcefully evicted.
After everyone has vacated the land, an Environment Impact Assessment will be conducted to facilitate gazetting of the land.