Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Making flood prevention a priority in Uganda

An editorial in New Vision (Uganda): The floods that hit Kampala this week should not have caught anyone by surprise. It is only logical to expect flooding when heavy rains come in the absence of a good drainage system. A decade ago the Nakivubo channel was widened and tributaries built as an interim measure to reduce flooding, pending implementation of the Kampala Drainage Master Plan. To-date, the master plan has not been implemented. Worse still, the drainage channels constructed or repaired a decade ago, are now clogged with soil, plastic bottles, polythene paper bags and organic matter.

This week, the Kampala deputy mayor, Florence Namayanja, accused the Kampala City Council (KCC) technical staff of incompetence and failure to clean up the drainage channels. Namayanja's remarks amount to an indictment on the city council. Is it not the work of political leaders to supervise and give direction to technical staff?

KCC should consider flood prevention as an urgent priority. Apart from causing direct suffering and property loss, flooding poses a major public health threat. It leads to spread of diarhoeal diseases and creates mosquito breeding grounds. It also damages roads, jams traffic, hampers economic activities and causes outright misery.

Weather predictions indicate that heavy rains will continue. If the drainage problem is not sorted out, flooding will continue. It is a lot cheaper to prevent than to cure diseases and other problems. Apart from ensuring wetland protection, KCC should urgently clean up the existing channels and then expand the drainage system. They may argue that they do not have the money, but it is a lot cheaper to prevent than to cure a problem…..

Burton Street in Kampala, shot by Doreen Among, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

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