Devastation as downpour on steady destruction trail

Wednesday May 13 2020
Kisumu floods

A boy uses a boat to leave home after Lake Victoria rose and flooded several houses at Nduru Kadhiambo in Kisumu County on February 27, 2020. Many parts of the country are currently experiencing floods due to heavy rains. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP


At least five more people have died in floods and heavy rains in Nyanza and Western region, as River Nzoia left a trail of destruction.

Residents say it is the worst flood in decades and can only be compared to the early 1960s raging waters that wreaked havoc in the region when the Nzoia River burst its banks.

Like a buffer zone in a war field with birds perched atop trees, hundreds of families are literally perched on dykes stretching as far as one’s eyes can see.

While an estimated 40,000 people are displaced, it is the residents of Busagwa in Busia County who seem to have borne the brunt of the heavy rains and flooding that continues to be building up by day.

With their belongings piled around them and livestock tethered nearby, the devastating effect of Mother Nature has forced hundreds of Busagwa flood victims to seek refuge on a strip of dykes after their homes were submerged.

Their temporary shelter now turned into some sort of island, some families have refused to be evacuated as they hope that the raging waters will somehow give way for them to resume their normal lives.


Due to the low capacity and the few available rescue boats, Kenya Coast Guard Service and other disaster management and humanitarian assistance organisations have focused on evacuating the victims to Mudembi ‘mainland’.

“We are trying to mobilise resources to hire other vessels to assist in the search and rescue mission,” said Mr Thomas Mango of Busia Community Development organisation.

He expressed frustration that the shallow waters experienced in some areas is jeopardising accessibility of boats and making it difficult to operate.

Over 200 houses, including the old semi-permanent structure belonging to Lugale Parish, have collapsed in the floods. Four people have been confirmed dead.

Busia County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri has, however, said they will enforce evacuation to avert crisis.

“People living in flood-prone areas must immediately be evacuated while defiant ones risk being arrested and charged in court,” he said.

He pointed out that the situation is getting out of hand and any further delay could turn ugly as authorities are struggling to cope with growing water volumes in the area.

The flooding has forced hundreds of people to improvise shelters along Siaya-Rwambwa-Nyadorera highway.

“It’s desperate as we’ve nowhere else to turn to, as the few designated rescue centres cannot accommodate all of us,” said 59-year-old Tobias Otieno from Nyadorera.

Because of the government directive to avoid overcrowding at the camps to curb the Covid-19 spread, authorities are restricting the numbers of people per classroom at the rescue centres.

Goro Primary School in Siaya County was also fully immersed in water.

Meanwhile, three people died in Suba over the weekend in rain -related incidents, Deputy County Commissioner Kamau Maina said.

In Nyando, the devastating effects of the flood continue to attract overwhelming support from well-wishers and donor agencies as the national and county governments were called upon to provide a lasting solution to the perennial crisis.

Kenyans in the US

Help from Kenyans living in the US also saw approximately 3,000 people benefiting from blankets, foodstuff such as maize flour and sugar worth Sh500,000.

The donation that was distributed in camps in Nyando, Muhoroni and parts of Kisumu East came through Kano Empowerment Association and Kavirondo Men’s Group.

Meanwhile, a key road linking three counties in western Kenya has been closed after River Nzoia bridge collapsed under the heavy rains.

Hundreds of commuters to Bungoma, Kakamega and Busia counties were yesterday morning forced to seek alternative routes after part of the bridge collapsed.

The bridge, which was built in 1962, developed cracks after the Saturday night downpour, before it collapsed on Monday morning.

In Kisumu and Siaya, residents and leaders are worried about the safety of some bridges in the area, calling them a disaster-in-waiting.

Residents of Kisumu East, Nyando and Usenge in Bondo Sub county fear that lives will be lost if the government, through its roads agencies, doesn’t act fast.

The bridges include Ayweyo in Nyando, Kambogo in Kisumu East and Usenge-Majimbo Bridge in Bondo.

Kisumu East MP Shakeel Shabbir and residents led by Mr John Riaga claim that their calls to have the Kambogo bridge repaired have fallen on deaf ears.

The bridge has been partly washed away.

In Isiolo, residents of Biliqo in Merti are grappling with acute water shortage following breakage of pipes that tap water from River Ewaso Nyiro, which burst its banks due to the downpour.

More than 400 families that rely on piped water have, in the last two weeks, been walking for about six kilometres to fetch murky water from the river, which could expose them to waterborne diseases.

In Badharero, Bori, Yaballo, Uran and Dabel of Marsabit County, some 3,000 people have been marooned by floods and risk starvation.

Destroyed crops

In Laikipia, farmers are counting their losses after heavy rains destroyed crops in parts of the county.

At Rubere, Ng’arua Division of Laikipia West, over 400 acres of tomatoes and maize were swept away by the raging waters.

The residents are now living in fear after Rubere dam, which sits on a 10-acre plot, broke its banks.

According to Matuiku Location Chief John Wamae, most of the farms that were destroyed are adjacent to the dam.

Report by Victor Raballa, Shaban Makokha, Rushdie Oudia, Ondari Ogega, Jacob Walter, Bruhan Makong and Waweru Wairimu and Steve Njuguna