Uganda– At least 10 people have died while 1,000 others have been rendered homeless after a spate of wildfires ravaged Kaabong District between December and this month, authorities have said.
Mr Joseph Komol, the Kaabong chairperson, said the most affected sub-counties are Kapedo, Kalapat, Kamion, Loyoro, Sidok, Kathile and Kaabong West.
Speaking to this newspaper at the weekend, Mr Komol said some people are now residing in schools and others are without shelter. The wildfires have massively affected the household incomes of our people in Kaabong, he added.
The district boss said he has written to the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness over the issue but is yet to get a response.
Mr Okoth-Nyalulu, the Resident District Commissioner, also confirmed the development but was quick to blame it on rat hunters. The animals are a delicacy in the Karamoja Sub-region and residents burn bushes to catch the prey.
People who hunt for rats are the biggest problem because they are the ones who set the bushes on fire to force the animals out of their habitats without taking into account the strong winds, he said.
Mr OKoth-Nyalulu noted that December and March are always dangerous months of wildfires because of strong winds and drought. He said the district has a disaster management department which did not sensitise the communities on handling such eventualities due to shortage of money.
The RDC appealed to development partners working in Karamoja to help resettle the residents as they await governments response.
Authorities in Karamoja late last year and at the beginning of this year warned residents against continued burning of bushes, saying the fires could raze peoples houses. However, the residents seemed not to have taken the caution seriously.