Serere district in Teso region in Eastern part of Uganda could face a major food crisis, as the ongoing heavy rains continue to ravage the sub counties that constitute the district’s main food basket.
The torrential rains, which began pounding the country in early March, have raised the water level on Lake Kyoga, resulting in floods that have displaced thousands of households and destroyed acres of farmlands in Serere district.
The current situation has created panic among the district leaders on how to deal with the resulting crisis.
Joseph Opit Okojo, the LC V Chairperson of Serere district, said the floods caused by rising water levels in Lake Kyoga have affected more than 10,000 individuals in six sub counties near the lake, including Kateta, Pingire, Atira, Labori, Kagwara and Kadungulu.
According to Opit, the affected sub counties are the most productive in Serere and constitute the district’s food basket.
In Pingire Sub County alone, about 6,000 gardens have been affected, leaving more than 3,000 residents on the verge of starvation, the area’s LC3 Chairperson, Michael Ongwara revealed.
Several were forced to seek shelter with friends in the uplands, while others have resorted to eating mangoes to ward of the gnawing hunger.
“Many families are currently starving; people hardly eat two meals a day. Thank God mangoes are ripening; that’s what’s helping most families to survive, but when they get finished we shall be in trouble,” Ongwara said.
According to Mzee James Opolot, a 70-year-old resident of Sambwa village in Pingire Sub County, the destruction occasioned by the recent flooding is unprecedented.
“I was born in this village and grew up here, but this has never happened in Serere,” he said.
”We have experienced floods before, but not to the extent that they cover hundreds of gardens like they are now.”
Stella Akello, a mother of eight and resident of Omiriai village in Pingire Sub County, told theCooperator that her six-acre maize garden has been completely flooded.
“I sold six of my goats to get money for hiring a tractor to open the land. I then planted maize and even finished weeding. I was waiting for a good harvest, but how this disaster has befallen us is unexplainable,” she said.
To make matters worse, Akello says all the food in her granaries was also soaked into water and rendered inedible.
Jessica Amoding, another farmer and a resident of Odapakol village, Serere district lost four acres of finger millet to the rising water levels from the lake.
Serere LC V Chairperson, Joseph Opit, says the district has a major crisis on its hands with the recent flooding.
“The situation is so bad: people have been displaced, they are living in open class rooms with no sleeping materials… it’s terrible,“ he said.
Mr. Opit also noted that the floods have cut off major roads blocking people from accessing health services in the health centres.
“I am asking the Office of the Prime Minister to come and rescue the people of Serere because as a district we are not able to feed all the affected families,” he said.