August 22, 2013

OPM Stuck With Refugee ‘Pupu’

National Water and Sewerage Corporation—NWSC has stopped depositing human waste from the refugee transit camp in Bundibugyo district in its lagoons in Fort Portal town.

Opm Stuck With Human ‘Pupu’ From Refugee Camp
Opm Stuck With Human ‘Pupu’ From Refugee Camp

For the past three weeks, human waste from the transit camp located at the Bubukwanga sub county headquarters, has often been emptied at the lagoons located at Kabundaire, since there is no lagoon in Bundibugyo town.  The refugee camp is host to more than 30,000 Congolese refugees who fled fighting after rebels attacked Kamango town last month.

NWSC had earlier agreed with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), that the waste be deposited in their lagoons.

However in a letter dated August 20th signed by Peter Opedum, the manager NWSC Fort Portal area, depositing of human waste in the lagoons in Fort Portal has been stopped. The letter is addressed to the senior commandant Bubukwanga transit camp and the UNHCR.

Opedum states in the letter that the depositing of waste is an inconvenience to NWSC and to residents of Fort Portal.

In a telephone interview with Red Pepper online team, Opedum said that the lagoons are almost full and can’t accommodate any more human waste.

According to Opedum, everyday more than five cesspool trucks from the transit camp would empty waste in the lagoons, which is too much. He says that they were given only three weeks to deposit the waste, but they continued even after the period had elapsed.

The action by NWSC has affected the management of sanitation at the transit camp. The latrines are almost getting full and there are fears of an outbreak of cholera.

Charles Bafaki, the senior resettlement officer in the OPM, told Red Pepper online team in a telephone interview that the disaster management department has written to the NWSC authorities requesting for more time to continue depositing the waste at their lagoons until the construction of a lagoon in Bundibugyo town is completed.

According to Bafaki, although the latrines at the camp are not yet full, there are fears that they will get full in the next three days and human waste will flow in the camp and get washed away by the rain water.  He says that since the population at the camp is high, the latrines are supposed to be emptied after every three days.

David Karamagi, the Bundibugyo district health officer, says that it’s impossible to construct more latrines at the transit camp, because there is no space. He says they have requested humanitarian agencies to provide mobile toilets.

According to Karamagi, failure to dispose of the waste could cause an outbreak of cholera in the camp.

A cholera isolation unit has been set up at Bubukwanga Health Centre III, just in case there is an outbreak. Across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo, an outbreak has already been reported with 20 people hospitalised.

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