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Responding to the needs of mothers affected by floods in Bundibugyo district

Twenty-year-old Maska from Matanda had just delivered a baby when the floods came. She had checked into Bubukwanga Health centre III to deliver her baby but had no home to return to as her house and property had been destroyed by the floods. She was in a state of depression. Torrential rainfalls across Bundibugyo district in Southwestern Uganda left houses submerged and destroyed in early December 2019.

Eighteen -year-old Oliver Basemera had also delivered a baby when the disaster struck. Her family lost everything, leaving nothing to cover the newborn, but an old shirt that her husband had to take off his back to wrap the baby in.

During natural disasters such as these, pregnant women risk life-threatening complications without access to delivery and emergency obstetric care services. In times as these, safe pregnancy and childbirth, hygiene and dignity remain a priority for UNFPA. It is in line with this that UNFPA responded to the special needs of the mothers who had delivered during the disaster, among them Oliver and Maska who were provided dignity kits that contained baby shawl, baby clothes and socks, a bar of soap, a wrapper and sandals for the mother. The kit also contained a bucket to help the mothers maintain proper hygiene.

“This bucket will be very useful for fetching water from the well,” said Bertha as she wrapped the newborn in the blanket.

Following the disaster, UNFPA conducted a rapid needs assessment in the affected areas.  This was supported by records from district local authorities and the Red Cross Society that provided the following information:   

By mid-December, 22 people were reported killed and hundreds went missing following floods and landslides in Bundibugyo district in western Uganda, according to reports from Uganda Red Cross.  A total of 349 households were destroyed, leaving over 4,000 residents devastated. The most areas affected by the landslides were; Bundimulinga and Hikitara villages in Tokwe sub-county Hamutoma, Humya villages in Bundibugyo town council and Buhundu parish in Bukonzo sub-county.

In some places, the landslides swept away almost the whole village forcing residents to seek settlement in neighboring villages. The property destroyed includes house items, animals, crops like cocoa, banana plantations, vanilla, coffee, sweet potatoes among others.  Six bridges were washed away, paralyzing the transport network and business activities. Relief efforts were also heavily hampered as areas affected by landslides were difficult to access due to blocked roads.

 Following the assessment, UNFPA Uganda submitted a proposal to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to the headquarters in New York, which was approved. Distribution of tents, sanitary pads, ERH kits and other medical supplies to support the survivors is ongoing.