Introduction: Uganda remains seismically vulnerable to earthquakes, which constitute one of the most deadly naturally triggered disasters in the world. This is not surprising given the country’s location in the East African Rift Valley System.
Method: This paper draws mainly on the authors’ live event experience and some media reports to narratively outline the nature of a sizable earthquake, which measured a magnitude of 5.7 on the Richter scale that struck Uganda and other countries within the Lake Victoria Basin region on 10th September 2016 in the afternoon.
Results: Rakai – a district in central region was the worst affected in Uganda. It witnessed the death of four people; 20 people were admitted to the hospital with injuries; a total of 590 people were affected; and serious structural damages mainly in buildings were reported, leaving many either razed to the ground or left with cracks.
Discussions: Although this earthquake was less devastating in terms of injuries and fatalities compared to two previous earthquakes in Uganda, based on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale it was still considered to be severe. Therefore, this paper identified some proactive lessons as far as earthquake risk reduction in Uganda is concerned, which among others include: encouraging earthquake-resistant buildings; the safety of essential infrastructure; earthquake early warning systems supported by free global technologies; and the safety of rescue workers along with prioritizing the psychosocial needs of rescue teams. With all this in mind, the September 2016 earthquake should serve as a timely reminder that there is a real need for the proactive ex-ante earthquake preparedness rather than risking an expensive post-ante approach to responding to any future devastating earthquakes in Uganda.
Keywords: Earthquake, Uganda, disaster risk reduction, ex-ante approach, post-ante approach