Located in eastern Uganda, the Teso sub-region is a quintessential scene of African savannah. Yet despite its beauty, it is also an area with a long history of natural disasters, namely flooding.
In light of this, in 2010 the Uganda Red Cross Society and the American Red Cross embarked on a two-year disaster risk reduction program in the region to build the capacity of local communities to identify, prepare for and respond to hazards.
In order to understand the main challenges and hazards facing the community, as well as their resources and strengths, a vulnerability and capacity assessment (VCA) was facilitated by Red Cross volunteers. The VCA provides an avenue for community ownership while establishing a framework for developing community action plans and prioritizing risk reduction projects.
In Kokorio Parish, community members identified flooding as one of their priority risks. In response, they embarked on a flood resistant shelter program. Traditional homes in the region are made from sun-baked, mud bricks, plastered together with mud and roofs made from grass thatching.
While this style of construction offers protection against the extreme heat of the African sun, it often becomes dangerous during times of heavy rain and floods. During these times, the walls of the home absorb water causing them to collapse.
Flood-resistant huts are built with slight modifications increasing their resiliency during the rainy season, while still maintaining their dry season advantages. First, the floor of the hut is raised by about a foot. Next, a layer of heavy plastic sheeting is placed between the floor and the wall to act as a damp proof barrier, preventing the walls from absorbing water.
To support this initiative, the Red Cross hosted trainings to teach community members how to construct the huts and assisted in the construction of a demonstration hut in the
community’s main meeting place.
The community then identified the most vulnerable people in their village and formed small teams to build huts for them. As a result of the group’s effort, over 100 huts have been constructed in the community.