Saturday 10 August 2013

Four year old boy killed by landslide in Bududa District, eastern Uganda.

A four year old boy has been confirmed dead, and a number of other people are missing, following a landslide at Matuwa in Bududa District, eastern Uganda, in the afternoon of Saturday 10 August 2013. The boy has been named as John Mangoye. The incident comes after two days of heavy rains and hailstorms that have triggered a series of landslides and caused the River Manafwa to burst its banks. Over a hundred homes are thought to have been destroyed by the storms, and as has bridge at Manafwa, and dozens of people are said to have required hospital treatment. It is feared that the number of people who have died may rise.

Rescuers search for survivors at the site of a landslide in Bududa District, Uganda. Red Pepper.

The Bududa District has suffered a string of devastating landslides in recent years, particularly in the east of the district, which lies on the slopes of Mount Elgon, a 4300 m extinct volcano which stradles the border with Kenya. Landslides are a common problem after severe weather events, as excess pore water pressure can overcome cohesion in soil and sediments, allowing them to flow like liquids. Approximately 90% of all landslides are caused by heavy rainfall. However in Bududa the problem has been made worse by extensive deforestation, which removes deep-rooted trees that help to hold soil in place and replaces them with shallow-rooted, often seasonal crops. This in turn has been driven by a rising population; Uganda has one of the highest rates of population growth in Africa, with a population that has doubled since 1990. This has driven people to bring previously wild areas under cultivation, with people moving into marginal areas such as steep, previously forested, slopes in Bududa District in rising numbers. 

The approximate location of the 10 August 2013 Matuwa landslip, with Bududa District highlighted in red. Note that much of the district lies on the slopes of Mount Elgon. Google Maps.

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