Open Access Open Badges Research

Land slide disaster in eastern Uganda: rapid assessment of water, sanitation and hygiene situation in Bulucheke camp, Bududa district

Lynn M Atuyambe1*, Michael Ediau2, Christopher G Orach1, Monica Musenero3 and William Bazeyo4

Author Affiliations

1 Makerere University School of Public Health, Department of Community Health and Behavioural Sciences, P.O. Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda

2 Makerere University School of Public Health/CDC Fellowship Program, Kampala, Uganda

3 Ministry of Health Uganda, Integrated Disease Surveillance, Kampala, Uganda

4 Makerere University School of Public Health, Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health, Kampala, Uganda

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Environmental Health 2011, 10:38  doi:10.1186/1476-069X-10-38

Published: 14 May 2011



On 1st March 2010, a major landslide occurred on Mt. Elgon in Eastern Uganda. This was triggered by heavy rains that lasted over three months. The landslide buried three villages in Bududa district, killing over 400 and displacing an estimate of 5,000 people. A comprehensive assessment of water, sanitation and hygiene was urgently needed to inform interventions by the Ministries of Health, and Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Uganda.


This was a cross-sectional study where both qualitative and quantitative data were collected two weeks after the disaster. Quantitative interviews involved 397 heads of households and qualitative methods comprised of 27 Key Informant interviews, four focus group discussions and observations. The survey quantified water safety (collection, treatment, storage) and hygiene practices. This was supplemented and triangulated with qualitative data that focused on community perceptions and beliefs regarding water and sanitation needs and practices. Quantitative data was entered in Epi-Info Version 3.2.2 software and then exported to SPSS Version 12 for analysis. Summary statistics and proportions were generated and bi-variable analysis performed for selected variables. Associations were assessed using odds ratios at 95% confidence intervals. Qualitative data was analyzed using content analysis.


Qualitative results showed that there were strong traditional beliefs governing water use and human excreta disposal. The use of river Manafwa water for household consumption was observed to potentially lead to disease outbreaks. Water from this river was reported tastier and the community culturally saw no need to boil drinking water. Latrines were few (23 for 5000 people), shallow, dirty (70% reported flies, 60% fecal littering), not separated by sex and had limited privacy and no light at night. This affected their use. Males were 3 times more likely to wash hands with soap after latrine use than females (OR = 3.584, 95%CI: 1.658-7.748). Of the 90% respondents who indicated that they always washed hands after latrine use, 76% said they used water and soap. Observations showed that water and soap were inconsistently available at the hand washing facilities. This situation influenced people's sanitation and hygiene behaviours. Nearly half (48%) indicated that at least a member of their household had fallen sick at least once since arrival at the camp.


There was inadequate access to safe water in the camp. Pit-latrines were inadequate, poorly maintained and not user-friendly for most people. Responsible authorities should design means of increasing and sustaining access to safe water, increase sanitation facilities and continuously educate the public on the need to observe good hygiene practices.