KAMPALA, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday mourned 23 people killed after landslides swept through several villages in the western region last week and extended financial support to families.
Museveni in a statement directed the State House Comptroller to give 5 million Ugandan shillings (about 1,338 U.S. dollars) to each of the families who lost loved ones and 1 million shillings to those who were injured in the three districts in the Kigezi region, and Ntoroko district Tuesday and Wednesday.
At least 23 people were killed and 16 others injured after torrential rains triggered landslides swept through several villages in Kisoro, Rubanda, Rukiga, and Ntoroko, according to the president.
"Those losses of life reemphasize the need to observe the environmental requirements strictly," said Museveni. "There should be no buildings or gardens 50 meters from river banks, 200 meters from the Lakeshore and no building on hills with a gradient greater than 30 degrees."
Environmentalists blame the rampant landslides and floods on the felling of trees as people look for land to cultivate in the East African country.
"Forests hold the soil and prevent landslides. The roots of the trees hold the soil. The forests near the river banks and Lakeshores filter the water going into the rivers or lakes, so that they do not silt," said Museveni.
Uganda last month issued a disaster alert, warning that several parts of the country will face floods, landslides, mudslides, hailstorms, and lightning as the first rain season starts.
According to the Ministry for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, parts of eastern, central, western regions and the Lake Victoria basin would experience near-normal to above-normal forms of rainfall up to May.
Heavy rainfall is likely to lead to the destruction of farmland, crops and a surge of water-related diseases such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery and malaria. ■