HOMELESS NURSES raging water, the human factor
On the first day of May 2013 in Kasese Uganda, relentless thrashing rain fell on the soil eroded Rwenzori Mountains cascaded into the River Nyamwamba bursting its fragile banks creating flash flooding, leaving a disastrous trail of destruction in its wake. A year later, the crippled community is coping with the aftermath, especially the Kilembe Mines Hospital’s dedicated nursing staff whose homes were swept away in the fury of the floods.
Efforts to tame the river over the last year have been marginal as the ‘river-rage’ continues during the rainy season. One year on, it has been déjà vu, with the forces of nature striking once again in the same spot. The new floods forced the Kilembe Mines Hospital to once again evacuate its patients and transfer them to various other health facilities in the municipality. Fortunately the hospital was not ravaged, as it had been previous year.
The human factor in the aftermath of the flooding is predictably immense, especially in this poverty-ridden region where there is little precious resources for rebuilding the fractured infrastructure and lives affected by the disaster. Immediately after the disaster occurred there was support from the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support the Ugandan Red Cross and other United Agencies. Within a few months they departed with shallow follow-up or any substantial funding to mitigate the cause of this natural disaster fueled by a combination of climate change and the footprint of man.
It has been more than a year since the nurses have been displaced and forced to organize temporary homes at horrendously expensive rates. Their hospital housing was free, and conveniently nestled along the bank of the river adjacent to the hospital. Now most of the nurses have found homes in neighbouring Kasese Town, which is 10 kilometers away, a 2-hour hike or securing highly unaffordable public transport given the meager wages they earn.