ABANDONED after the fury of the flood
On the first day of May 2013 in Kasese Uganda, relentless thrashing rain fell on the soil eroded Rwenzori Mountains. Its fury cascaded down 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.
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.
Sister Anna Mutazindwa , the head of nurses at this devastated hospital that services its poverty-ridden community said:
“Immediately after the disaster occurred there was support from the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, the Ugandan Red Cross and other United Nation’s Agencies. Within a few months they departed with disappointing follow-up, support, or any mandated plan and funding to mitigate the cause of this natural disaster fuelled by a combination of climate change and the footprint of man. Most urgently, there was virtually not enough money allocated for critical supplies that were lost in the rage of the floods. Bed linens and uniforms were ravaged and not replaced. The tangled twisted debris of metal beds and other equipment are stacked up creating a breeding place for vermin, an eyesore that clutters the grounds. Our wards are over crowded; at times four adults share beds and many are on mattresses on the concrete floor. Some patients are forced to sleep outside the wards because of over-crowding. The hospital is on a recovery mode but we are desperate for further funding to rebuild the nurses homes. My entire staff were displaced and now are suffering form acute financial pressure as they have had to find alternative homes for their family which is hugely expensive and tragically, many, have not been paid their wages for over 6 months forcing them to take loans from the local bank at exploitive rates. We feel abandoned and forgotten. The wider world had never heard of the Kilembe Mines Hospital, other disasters and the presence of terrorism are what capture the headlines in the global press.”
In spite of acute shortages and compromised reconstruction, the hospital operates serving its community with a high standard of care with very limited resources. It is shocking to comprehend how anyone can survive residing in a hospital with poor sanitary conditions, lack of clean water, as all the water comes from the River Nyamwamba which is now a polluted silt of raging water, an environmental disaster, without any control.