YUMBE. An assessment conducted by the district disaster management committee on the recent hailstorm and rain waters that ravaged Yumbe district a week ago report has indicated an estimated economic loss of Shs 55.7 billion for the damages caused.

According to the report, out of the 70 sampled villages where the assessment was carried in the 6 lower local governments of Kuru, Apo, Lodonga, Drajini and Lori sub counties and Lodonga town council, a total of 32,160 people from 5,360 households have been affected.

The report further indicated that the hailstorm destroyed a sampled 6,881 acres of various crops, caused death to over 410 livestock and an unspecified number of buildings was also destroyed.

While disseminating the report in a disaster committee meeting at the weekend, Mr Stephen Bakole, the district Agricultural officer said it has been a rapid assessment and that they were unable to reach all the affected households.

He said some of the affected households might have been eliminated in the rapid assessment process but they have given go ahead to the LCs to continue recording the affected households that were left out during the rapid assessment period and it's anticipated that the number may increase.

"From our findings, all the crops were affected but according to the tool we deployed, we didn't want to capture every crop of a farmer, it was hard because our farmers at times grow more than 20 different crops. We zeroed on the key crops like green,vegetables, maize, cassava, rice, sorghum, beans, sweet potatoes, soya beans and groundnuts", he said.

"We can go ahead to make recommendations but even if there is any help given, there will still be a lot of loss in terms of revenue and livelihood. Whatever we do, it will take the farmers three years to recover from this situation and in this period of time, there is a need for the farmers to work harder to improve their livelihood", Bakole added.

He said this disaster is likely to impact on the livelihoods of the communities and gender based violence may likely to increase as some men are requesting their wives to temporarily go back to their parents homes with the children.

Mr Rasul Drajiga, the district disaster management committee chairperson said following the destruction by the hailstorm, they as disaster management committee demanded for immediate rapid assessment to be carried out to ascertain the damages caused so that it can inform them of appropriate action.

He said the technical team has given them the report and immediately it was disseminated so that based on the report, various stakeholders can get back to the drawing board and see what else can be done within the remaining time because this is the last quarter of the second season to grow crops.

"We have disseminated the report with the intention of seeking for support from the various stakeholders that we think can be able to redeem the situation slightly. Our disaster budget is sector specific and it's called a contiguous plan but the scope of the damage is too big to be handled with the sector budgets that's why we are pushing it to the well-wishers, partners and government agencies", he said.

He said the district disaster sector budget can't reach Shs 50 million which can't help to address the matter.

However, Drajiga told the farmers to learn a lesson from this disaster that they shouldn't produce food to be eaten at a certain particular period of time but what they should produce every other time, they should process it and preserve/store them so that it takes them for another period.

What the partners say

Mr Brahan E'doni, the project manager at DanChurchAid (DCA) concurred with the recommendations of the disaster management committee but expressed fear on the call to support the affected farmers with planting materials.

"The disaster committee recommended that the partners should support the farmers with planting materials but my fear is some of the enterprises may be cut off now because it's approaching the dry season. The partners support may perhaps focus more on vegetables because looking at cassava and other enterprises taking into account our Agricultural practices here, bringing such planting materials may be a huge challenge because the weather may not support it", he said.

Ms Caroline Akello, the livelihood manager at International Rescue Committee (IRC) said there is need to help the affected persons because there is a possibility of hunger in the near future.

She said, due to the unreliability of rainfall in the first season, farmers in Yumbe normally postpone planting crops in that season but they mainly target the second season.

"It’s really unfortunate that this happened at such a time when the farmers are concluding planting crops in the second season and this is really an indicator that hunger/famine may hit the affected areas very soon and yet the second season in Yumbe is the best for the farmers as they target it for planting crops because the first season is unreliable", Akello said.

Some of the affected farmers speak out

Ms Makah Candiru a farmer from Kenyanga village said, it's the first of its kind for her to witness such a disaster in her life since she was born.

She said, the crops that they have planted have all been destroyed by the hailstorm but there is need for the government to extend a hand in supporting the affected families with food aid.

"We had a lot of crops in the garden but there is completely nothing left for the family to survive. As parents, we are going to be in trouble because the children will not think of the destruction caused to the crops but they will continue to demand food from us", she said.

Mr Alli Onziga, another farmer, said what happened to them was just like losing a family member and their lives were in danger.

"We don't know whether our local government can assist us in this matter like other countries do in such scenarios of disaster. The matter happened at a time after I sustained a fracture on my leg in an accident and I am supposed to go to Lacor Hospital for treatment but it's now impossible, so it’s a big blow to my family because looking for ways for their survival is now difficult", he said.

He said planting of new crops may not work because in Yumbe, the rainy season ends early unless the partners can drill some boreholes to support mini irrigation for the farmers because the water sources in the valleys dry off during the dry season.