Kenya: Families in Agony as River Yala Bursts Banks, Masinga Dam Swells

Masinga Dam.

Villagers in parts of Yimbo and Alego in Siaya County are counting losses after floods tore through their farms when River Yala burst its banks on Tuesday night.

The heavy rains cut off the main road linking Yimbo in Bondo Sub-County to Alego in Siaya town.

Mr Martin Magina said his crops were submerged in the waters. "We don't know how we are going to offset our loans from One Acre Fund that financed our farming. We have been incurred massive losses and expect no returns from our farms," said Mr Magina from Odhuro village. Accessing Ratuoro dispensary on the Alego side was also impossible.

Another farmer, Mr Jacob Madowo, lamented that they were facing transport challenges as they try to seek services from the county headquarters. "We are now compelled to travel for about 70km to Siaya town instead of the usual 20km before the route was cut off by the rains," Mr Madowo said.


Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda, who was at the scene to access the level of damage on the farms, said 3,000 acres in formerly Dominion farms have been submerged as well as community land in both Alego and Yimbo.

Nyanza regional police boss Leonard Katana told locals living near the banks of River Yala to move to safer grounds.

And hundreds of Garissa and Tana River residents yesterday started fleeing their homes following the government's warning that Masinga Dam could overflow.

Some of the residents however defied the warning.

A spot check by the Nation showed that people living along River Tana were moving to higher ground.

On Tuesday, Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter said Masinga Dam could overflow between Wednesday and Thursday. He said the dam, one of the largest in the country, was at 1,055.5m above sea level. It fills up at 1056.5m. He urged residents of Garissa, Garsen, Hola and Bura to move to safer ground.

The warning comes after 47 people were killed following the collapse of a dam in Nakuru County. A number of people have been killed and thousands displaced in Tana River, Lamu and Kilifi counties following heavy rains.


On Wednesday, panic gripped flood-prone areas along River Tana following Mr Keter's warning.

Among the areas where residents were relocating were Bula Sheikh, Windsor, Bulla Punda, Bulla Iftin, Mororo, Ziwani and Bakuyu. Some villagers in Garsen, who were displaced by floods, however started moving back to their homes despite the warning.

Dumi, Peponi, Feri and Kachadwe are among areas where the villagers had started returning and planting crops.

"I cannot continue staying at the camp yet the rains have stopped. I will not move until I see the water coming. I cannot leave my farm. What will I eat if I stay at the camp?" asked Ms Fatuma Komora of Dumi village.

Another villager Annah Abute said they could not continue living at the camp as life has been difficult.


Meanwhile, schools in Tana River are in dire need of infrastructure and teachers following the floods that washed away classrooms rendering others unsafe for studies.

The situation has left more than 2,000 students in various parts of the county stranded as others study under trees.

In Marvel Secondary School in Madogo, 25 Form Four candidates are yet to know their fate after the management closed down the school whose classroom walls had developed cracks, rendering it unsafe for studies.

The management is said to have secured another piece of land to build temporary structures in order to relocate the school, when the floods struck again. Speaking to the Nation, county director of education Gitonga Mbaka said plans were underway to find schools where the 25 candidates will be absorbed until they sit examinations. The other 600 students have been advised to look for schools to join, a challenge that now falls on the backs of parents who have termed it unfair.


Meanwhile, grief has engulfed a village in Nyandarua County after two children were swept away by floods on Tuesday.

Area police boss Jane Munywoki said the two children, aged seven months and four years, drowned.

The four-year-old boy, a nursery school pupil, was crossing Kasasumwa stream in the company of his mother when they were both swept away by the floods.

In the second incident, Ms Munywoki said the body of the other child was found floating in the river in the same area. Ms Munywoki said the police have launched investigations into the incident as police had no report of a missing child.

Reported by Mohamed Ahmed, Stephen Oduor, Abdimalik Hajir, Waikwa Maina and Justus Ochieng

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