It was a bad day in Buramba ward, Bushenyi Ishaka municipality on evening of 24th July, 2014, when eight pupils of Buramba Primary School in Ishaka division, were struck dead by lightning. The disaster took place at around 4pm during a light shower. Twenty three pupils were injured and rushed to the nearby Kampala International Teaching Hospital in Ishaka town, where they were treated.
The following day saw eight coffins laid in the school compound as parents, relatives, friends of the deceased, religious and political leaders mourned the loss. The atmosphere was all somber as Bushenyi district came to terms with what had happened.
After this, several interventions were employed by the district leadership including making bi-laws to guard the population, especially school-going children against another disaster. The bi-law compelled schools to erect lightning arrestors. Parents were encouraged to buy rubber shoes for their children to minimize the risk of being struck by thunder. These interventions became expensive for both schools and households and thunder strikes continued to ravage the area.
Different organizations in Bushenyi and beyond sought means of helping schools from being struck by lightning through purchasing the arrestors. One of the organizations, Lions Club of Bushenyi, came on board and supported about 45 schools purchase the arrestors on co-funding basis in the years 2015-2016. The beneficiary schools were only from Bushenyi district.
Following multiple requests from stakeholders in districts surrounding Bushenyi, that their schools be supported to purchase lightning arrestors, the Lions Club of Bushenyi with support from the Lions Clubs International Foundation as the funding arm has come with phase two, which was commissioned on 26th July, 2020.
Lion Dandas Nshekanabo, the chairperson of the Lightning arrestors purchasing committee told Countryside Reports in an interview, that second phase is going to cater for about 100 primary schools in the districts of Sheema, Buhweju, Mitooma and Rubirizi in a period of one year.
“Schools will be required to contribute 25% of the money needed to purchase one arrestor and Lions will contribute the remaining amount. Each arrestor costs 1,800,000 (One million and eight hundred Thousand) Uganda shillings. The project is likely to cost us more than 200,000,000(Two hundred million) Uganda shillings,” Lion Nshekanabo said
Arrestors will be approved by the Uganda Bureau of Standards before they can be installed in beneficiary schools. Only schools that are able to raise 25% of the money will be considered by the project and installation costs will be met by Lions Club according to Lion Nshekanabo
He, however, mentioned that the project faces a challenge of Universal Primary Education Schools finding it hard to raise the required 25% of the money.
“We have a problem of Universal Primary Education schools failing to pay the money even when we are helping them to meet the cost,” he said
Questions of whether schools will raise 25%, which is about 650,000(Six hundred fifty thousand shillings linger, especially at a time when the education sector, just like others has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.