An assessment of community resilience to Debris flows in the upper Manafwa catchment, Eastern Uganda.
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Over the years, the lives and livelihoods of the communities living within the debris flow hotspots of the Mt. Elgon region have immensely been affected. This has greatly changed the outlook of disaster management in the scientific world towards sustainability. Community resilience a sustainable network of the physical systems and human communities capable of anticipating, managing and limiting the impact of an extreme event so as to be able to survive, thrive, adapt, evolve, recover and continue with normal functionality in face of a disaster. This study was aimed at assessing the community resilience to debris flow disasters occurrences in the Upper Manafwa Catchment Bududa District, Eastern Uganda with a focus on Bukalasi sub-county; one of the major debris flow hotspot sub catchments with gigantic historical occurrences. Specifically, the project sought to examine the implications, analyze the existing coping strategies and limitations hindering community resilience to debris flow occurrences. A cross sectional research was undertaken using a mixed approach (qualitative and quantitative methods) where simple random sampling was employed in selection of the households and purposive sampling on the key informants. Data was collected through field surveys, interviews and direct field observations; and then analyzed using thematic content analysis where descriptive statistics (percentages and frequencies) were generated in Microsoft excel spread sheets and then presented inform of tables, pie charts and bar graphs. The study findings revealed that tree planting, agroforestry, afforestation, trenches, contour bands, appropriate farming practices, survival by luck, external aid, migration to safer places and relocation as the dominant socio-ecological coping strategies undertaken by communities towards building and enhancing their resilience. On contrary, certain socio-economic and bio-physical challenges such as poverty, limited adaptive capacity, lack of skills and technical capacity, limited awareness and sensitization, reluctance, limited land, unstable slopes, climate variability and demoralization are still limiting communities towards becoming resilient. The study therefore established that creation of alternative livelihoods, creation of a sustainable land use plan through use of an integrated bottom-top approach and setting up of active disaster management committees at all levels as some of the recommendable interventions. Further research on the effectiveness of the different coping strategies being undertaken in order to strengthen the communities’ adaptive capacity in the study area as well as similarly affected areas.