[/blockquote]Today, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) will hand over the management of the $300,000 (about UGX1B) flood early warning systems dubbed Endabusi (“the one that warns” in the Lunyole dialect). The system will be located in Butaleja District and owned by Butaleja District Local Government. The district has been ravaged by the persistent floods given its location in basin area and thereby receiving a lot off runoff water from the Wanale hills, Bududa hills, and the imposing Mt Elgon. Because of the raised topography, 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 System is located at Namulo Bridge on River Manafwa in Himuntu sub-county, 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.
The project was commissioned by the project by the Minister for ICT, Hon. John Nasasira, at a function held at Butaleja District headquarters on September 22, 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, represented ITU at the function. In her brief remarks, Mrs Purcel expressed ITU’s commitment to saving people’s lives. Since then, the EWS project has improved the dissemination of early-warning information in the flood- prone areas of Butaleja district.
How the system works
Once the water levels reach a certain point on the sensor, a signal is sent to the control command centre to activate the siren. The siren noise is then followed by a message in English and Lunyole that will alert the communities about a possible flooding or to require them to shift to safer grounds if the river has flooded. The siren can be heard within a radius of five kilometres.
Handover to the Government
One year down the road, the system has proved to be a reliable solution to ending not only the floods, but also minimise the endemic loss of life and property. Accordingly, UCC and ITU are today handing over the management of the flood early warning system to the Office of the Prime Minister under whose docket the responsibility of Disaster Management lies and ownership of the said system to Butaleja District Local Government.