Kenya: Two Drown, Hundreds Displaced As Heavy Rains Pound Kisumu

4 December 2019

Two women drowned while trying to cross River Magada in East Seme Ward, Kisumu County on Sunday as the ongoing heavy rains continue to wreak havoc.

The victims - Christine Akinyi Odiyo and Symprose Anyango - were heading home from a church and were crossing a bridge which caved in. They were swept away by raging floods.

East Seme Assistant Chief Nicholas Odongo, who confirmed the incident, said they mobilised locals to recover the bodies of the two, which were retrieved on Monday.

BODIES RETRIEVED

The bodies were taken to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary.

River Magada separates Kojula and Olutu villages.

Over the years, locals have appealed to the government to build a strong footbridge to prevent deaths when it floods.

"For 20 years we have raised the issue but the government is very reluctant to act," said Mr Odongo.

FAMILIES DISPLACED

Elsewhere, at least 220 families in Kakola village around Ombaka in Ahero have been forced to move out of their homes and are camping at St John Paul II Nyamasao Primary School following three days of heavy downpour.

The heavy rains have raised water levels in Lake Victoria resulting in the floods.

Residents have asked the government to provide foodstuffs and medical supplies.

The Kisumu County government has opened an evacuation centre at Ombaka.

VICTIMS GET AID

The county government, together with the Kenya Red Cross Society and Plan International have joined hands to support the affected residents by providing blankets and other items.

Ms Ruth Atieno, one of the flood victims, has appealed for President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga to help get a lasting solution to the floods in Ahero.

"We are pleading with our President Uhuru and Mr Raila Odinga to assist us. We hardly have anything to eat and our children are suffering," said Mrs Atieno.

The rising water levels in Lake Victoria have resulted in a back flow around Ombaka in Kakola village.

This flooding occasioned by the back flow has resulted to the hundreds of residents.

KISII

In Kisii, a family in Nyamataro, South Mugirango escaped death by a whisker after a house they were sleeping in collapsed during heavy rains on Monday night.

Ms Pacifica Matara and her eight children and seven grandchildren were asleep when they were awakened by a loud bang.

"We were asleep and at around 2am I was awakened by crying grandchildren. Upon waking up, I realised that mounds of soil had trapped them on a mat they were sleeping on. I screamed and we were rescued by good Samaritans who made sure the children were safely evacuated," she said.

The Kisii County government has since closed down quarrying activities in Tabaka (South Mugirango) and Nyambera (Kitutu Chache South) in order to avert what it said is an impending disaster following heavy downpour in the region.

QUARRYING BAN

The County Executive for Administration Walter Okibo Bichang'a said the ban follows the assessment by the disaster team.

In Tabaka, the county government also suspended soapstone mining, an economic activity for thousands of households.

"We have decided to suspend quarrying activities in the said areas until rains subside," Dr Bichang'a said.

"Residents will wait for official communication on when to resume quarrying activities," he told the Nation from his office.

He said the county government has rolled out sensitisation forums to the quarry miners on the risks of quarrying during the rainy season.

KAKAMEGA

In Kakamega, the county government has stopped mining activities indefinitely to avert accidents during the ongoing rainy season.

This follows fears that the heavy rains could cause soils in the mining pits to collapse and result in disasters.

Chiefs and their assistants in Ikolomani Constituency have consequently been instructed to ensure that the miners do not enter the pits to avoid calamities.

Kakamega County Commissioner Pauline Dola asked the administrators to ensure the directive is complied with.

Kakamega South Sub-County Police Commander Joseph Chesire said on Tuesday that they are working closely with chiefs to monitor the situation.

"We visited several mining sites in Ikolomani Constituency and asked miners to stop operations until the rains have subsided because of the possibility of soils collapsing and burying people alive in the pits," said Mr Chesire.

RAINS BRIEFS

Chiefs have also been instructed to give briefs on rainfall patterns in their regions and compile a list of vulnerable families and forward them to the county commissioner's office to enable the government provide emergency support.

"We have put the respective administration officials on the alert to closely monitor what is happening on the ground. Those who fail to do so will be held responsible," said Ms Dola.

Ikolomani Constituency is considered the heart of mining activities in Kakamega County with villagers flocking the mines abandoned by the colonialists in the 1930s to prospect for gold.

CROPS DESTROYED

In Ndhiwa and Rachuonyo North sub-counties in Homa Bay, farmers are counting losses after floods destroyed their crops.

The crops were swept by the floods which occurred after River Oyombo in Ndhiwa and River Miriu in Rachuonyo North bust their banks.

In Ndhiwa, the river situated between South Kanyikela and West Kanyadato locations overflowed after a heavy rainfall which pounded the area.

The floods also paralysed movement between the two locations.

Residents and traders in the area had difficulties moving from one place to another.

IMPASSABLE ROADS

Traders using roads in the area said they are suffering huge losses due to inability to access major markets such as Ndhiwa, Oria, Riat and Amoyo.

In Rachuonyo North, at least 20 families are camping at Osodo Primary School after their homes were destroyed by flood waters.

"The current situation in Rachuonyo North is very serious. Displaced families are in dire need of assistance," said Homa Bay County Commissioner Harman Shambi.

The administrator said his office is sourcing for relief food to be taken to the affected families.

He appealed to residents to be careful especially when crossing areas with moving water to avoid injuries.

Reporting by Elizabeth Ojina, Benson Ayienda, Wycliffe Nyaberi, Benson Amadala and George Odiwuor

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