The European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) sent a delegation led by Morten Petersen Rugtved, the resident technical assistant, to assess the implementation of the Strengthening Community-led Preparedness and Response project.
This initiative is a collaborative effort between the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS), Caritas Tororo, Oxfam Uganda, and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), designed to mitigate the impacts of disasters in the region through local approaches. The visit aimed to gain insights into the project’s progress and challenges faced during its implementation. During the visit Mr. Petersen was in company of URCS project manager, Emmanuel Ntale, URCS communication and PR officer John Cliff Wamala, area branch manager Twaha Ayub and partners.
The delegation also had the opportunity to tour the regional warehouse at the URCS Mbale branch, where prepositioned relief supplies are stored. Twaha Ayub, the branch manager, emphasized the importance of these prepositioned stocks, stating, “Having prepositioned stock at the branch warehouse means that we are better prepared as a National Society. Whenever an emergency occurs in the project catchment area, response is made faster to save the lives of the affected persons since the relief is already here with us.”
The Strengthening Community-led Preparedness and Response project focuses on several districts in Eastern Uganda, including Bududa, Butaleja, Mbale, Namisindwa, and Sironko.
During their visit, the delegation also inspected ten river gauges installed in these districts, which are linked to the Ministry of Water and Environment’s network of subterranean monitoring stations.
One innovative aspect of the project is the deployment of twelve community radios in hotspot areas within the districts of Mbale, Sironko, and Namisindwa. Emmanuel Ntale, the project manager, explained that these radios are used to broadcast early warning signals when danger levels are observed from the river gauges. This participatory approach aims to prepare these communities for the expected El Nino rains forecasted between September and December.
The Uganda Meteorological Authority has predicted increased rainfall in various parts of the country, particularly in the hilly regions of Rwenzori, the Eastern region, and the Lake Victoria Basin.
This increase in rainfall is attributed to evolving El Nino conditions in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, expected to persist through the end of the prediction period of September to December 2023.
Emphasizing the project’s goals, Emmanuel Ntale stressed that “the project aims to strengthen community-led preparedness and response actions to disasters.” He highlighted the importance of enhancing local stakeholders’ readiness, response, and community engagement to facilitate more inclusive and participative decision-making. This strategic approach ensures that disaster management efforts are tailored to address the specific challenges and needs of each community, leading to effective and focused disaster response.
In a world where climate change exacerbates the impact of severe events, proactive measures are crucial to reduce the suffering and devastation caused by disasters. The project’s proactive use of meteorological and climate forecast information plays a pivotal role in safeguarding lives and enhancing community resilience in the face of diverse emergencies.