The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) will commission the Flood Early Warning System (EWS) In Eastern region on Monday 22nd September 2014.
After the commissioning of the system, life will never be the same again for the people of Butaleja District, and the Mt Elgon region in general.
For many years, Butaleja district had been ravaged by the persistent floods due to its location in basin area and thereby receiving a lot off runoff water from the Wanale hills, Bududa hills, and the imposing Mt Elgon.
The surrounding raised topography also implies that the area receives a lot of relief rainfall. On a positive note, the flooding and high rainfall supports the extensive rice growing in the area.
The Surveillance System
The $300,000 (UGX780m)System, which uses a siren notification system to warn people about raising water levels, comprises three main components:
- a sensor that is placed in the river;
- a solar-powered siren adjacent to the river, and;
- a Control Centre positioned at the district headquarters. The computers are a backup for monitoring the performance of the siren system.
Once the water levels reach a certain point on the sensor, a signal is activated alerting the communities to shift to safer grounds. The siren, with a voice radius of five kilometres, is then followed with guiding messages from the operator at the Control Centre on what the next course of action is.
Located at Namulo Bridge on River Manafwa in Himuntu Subcounty, Butaleja District, the system is a joint venture between the Government of Uganda and ITU, and is in line with Uganda’s Disaster Preparedness Policy.
Nationally, the project is being implemented by Butaleja District and the Ministries of Disaster Preparedness (Office of the Prime Minister), UCC (Information and Communications Technology – MoICT), and Water and Environment, with technical support from the International Telecommunications Union.
Dubbed Endabusi (“the one that warns” in the Lunyole dialect), the project has generated excitement and mixed reactions among the local populace. During a recent sensitisation campaign, a few people opined that EWS would cause rainfall shortage, while others view it as an espionage/surveillance gadget, and to some, it’s an electricity-generation plant.
While the system will not end the floods, it will minimise the endemic loss of life and property. This will be a big relief to the people of Butaleja District who, for many years,have been ravaged by the persistent floods especially from the surrounding hills. The area receives a lot of relief rainfall because of its topography.
The Minister for ICT, Hon. John Nasasira, will allay these fears when he cuts the tape at a function scheduled for Butaleja District headquarters on 22nd September 2014.
Mrs Gisa Fuatai Purcell, the Head of ITU’s Division of Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Countries and Small Island developing states, Emergency Telecommunications, and Climate Change, will represent this international body.
Ministers Hon. Eng Hilary Onek (Disaster Preparedness) and Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu (Water and Environment) are expected to attend. When all is done, one thing is for sure: EWS will improve dissemination of early-warning information in the flood-and landslide-prone Mt Elgon region.
MrsGisaFuatai Purcell, the Head of ITU’s Division of Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Countries and Small Island developing states, Emergency Telecommunications, and Climate Change, shall represent ITU at the function.
Before heading to Butaleja, Hon. Nasasira will officially open the UCC regional office in Mbale.
In 2012, UCC opened four regional offices in Gulu, Masindi, Mbale, and Mbarara with the aim of promoting and strengthening the Commission’s operations by bringing the services closer to the people within these regions. This was necessary in view of the dynamic and exponential growth of our communications sector.
Located on Plot 39/41 Republic Street, the Mbale Office is responsible for the South Eastern region. It takes care of the following districts: Amuria, Bukwa, Budadiri, Budaka, Bududa, Bugiri, Bukedea, Busia, Butaleja, Buyende, Iganga, Jinja, and Kaberamaido. Others areKaliro, Kamuli, Kapchorwa, Karakwo, Katakwi, Kumi, Manafwa, Mayuge, Mbale, Namayingo, Nakapiripit, Ngora, Pallisa, Serere, Sironko, Soroti and Tororo.