Thursday 6 June 2019

Landslides kill at least six in Bududa District, eastern Uganda.

Six people, including an eight-year-old girl, have been confirmed dead, seventeen more are known to have been injured, and about fifty more are missing after a series of landslides swept through villages in the foothills of Mount Elgon on Tuesday 4-Wednesday 5 June 2019. The incidents began at about 11.30 pm local time, following several hours of heavy rain in the area, sweeping away about 150 houses and causing the River Suume to burst its banks.

The aftermath of a mudslide in eastern Uganda this week. Daily Monitor.

he 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 straddles 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. 

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