Kenya: One Killed as Floods Displace Families in Nyanza, Budalang'i

A 67-year-old man died after he was swept away by flash floods in Rarieda, Siaya County on Saturday. Hundreds of families have been displaced in various parts of Nyanza and Busia County, following the heavy rains pounding most parts of the country.

Mr Martin Adongo Miyare, a resident of Akele village was swept away by the raging flood waters as he crossed Mawira stream.

Rarieda Sub-County Police Commander Thomas Ototo said the body was taken to Madiany Sub-County Hospital mortuary for postmortem.

Authorities are now grappling with the headache of ensuring social distancing, proper sanitation and other health safety measures for the more than 1,000 families that have been forced to move to safer grounds, in the wake of coronavirus outbreak in the country.

RENDERED HOMELESS

The most affected areas are Budalang'i in Busia, Nyando in Kisumu, Nyatike in Migori and West Ugenya and parts of Rarieda in Siaya County.

For the second day, families in flood-prone areas of Budalang'i spent the night in the cold on Saturday.

More than 500 families were rendered homeless after flood waters submerged their homes on Friday evening. They are now camping in schools.

On Sunday, some victims were seen trying to salvage household items which they took to Bumadeya, Runyu, Budala and Makunda secondary schools.

Area MP Raphael Wanjala on Saturday instructed all residents in the affected areas to move to safer grounds.

The affected villages include Runyu, Rukala, Mau Mau, Mabinju, Rugunga, Lugare, Bulwani, Obaro, Igigo, Siginga and Bukoma.

However, some of the victims who spoke to Nation said they are in dire need of food, clean water, mosquito nets and medical supplies.

"Our biggest problem is food. The floods have brought along mosquitoes. We also need of clean water and medication especially for young children," said Mr Joseph Odongo.

Mr Wanjala urged the families to be patient as efforts to manage the situation begins.

"I understand that we may witness delays in distribution of relief food to affected persons due to coronavirus pandemic. I urge Kenyans of goodwill and the Red Cross to support the affected families," he said.

TRANSPORT PARALYSED

Transport in the constituency, especially in Bunyala North has been paralysed after a number of bridges were swept away. In some areas, residents were forced to wade through waters to access shopping centres.

In Ugenya Sub-County, several residents of Mdondo Village and Mahawa scheme were also displaced by floods after River Nzoia broke its banks on Saturday.

Ugenya Deputy County Commissioner Pamela Otieno said 101 families have been affected. Ms Otieno said the affected families need health supplies, foodstuffs and shelter.

18 HOUSEHOLDS

She said at least 18 households are camping at Lunga Primary School in West Ugenya.

In Kisumu County, about 600 families are braving the cold weather after they were displaced by floods in Nyando and Nyakach. The worst affected areas include Sangoro, Achuodo, Kasae and Kakola-Ombaka village. Kakola-Ombaka Chief Jacob Ongudi said they have been forced to host displaced families in churches and schools.

"The situation is pathetic with the issue of social distancing. We have been forced to spread the affected families in various schools and churches," said Mr Ongudi.

He said the affected families are camping at River of Life Church and Ombaka and Nyamasao primary schools.

In Migori, more than 40 families of flood-prone Nyatike Sub-County have been urged to move to safer grounds as heavy rains continue to pound the county. The most affected area is North Kadem Ward. Area MP Tom Odege and County Disaster Management Chief Officer Joshua Ngwala urged locals to take early precautions to avert any calamity.

Mr Odege termed the rising water levels in rivers Migori and Kuja "timely pointers to a looming disaster," which could be averted.

"The rains are increasing daily and locals must remain careful. Our major rivers have given us earlier warning signs that call for quick action," the MP said.

SAFER GROUNDS

He added: "We have witnessed serious flooding in the past and this time we should not be caught unawares. The aftermath of the long rains may be undesirable so I call on people to remain vigilant and move to safer grounds."

By Saturday, locals had started moving from their homes. The most affected villages are Nyora, Kabiro, Were and Modi. The residents urged the county government to help them get better shelter.

"There is no doubt this area will be flooded, the county should come to our aid and settle us in safer areas since land owners cannot allow intruders on their parcels," said Mr John Oluoch, a resident of Nyatike.

Locals blamed the flooding on flaws at the Lower Kuja Irrigation Scheme's outlet, which they say was improperly done.

Ms Jane Atieno, one of the flood victims said the irrigation scheme had resulted in devastating effects, with nearly the entire village risking getting submerged in the floods.

Ms Atieno, whose house was swept by floods in January, blamed the county disaster management team for failing to provide her with alternative accommodation.

"I almost drowned with my three-year-old twins. I had noticed the water levels rise but I didn't expect it to rise to this extent. This time round, the disaster team should ensure we are settled before the situation worsens," she said.

North Kadem MCA Lucas Wagayi called for government intervention.

CAMP IN CHURCHES

"The government should find a lasting solution to the perennial floods in this area. Locals risk contracting diseases if drastic measures are not put in place to address the situation," he noted.

In December, several families were forced to camp in churches and chiefs' camps after the two rivers burst their banks.

"What we experienced last year was worse than what we went through in the previous years. Several people sought refuge at my office and neighbouring churches while the majority were left stranded," Kakelo Kakoth Location Chief Sospeter Odege told Nation.

"Three bridges serving the area were swept away after rivers Kuja and Ongito rivers burst their banks. Our children cannot cross over to schools. We are calling on Migori County government to come to our rescue," said Mr Ploycarp Alego, a resident of Nyora village.

Reports by Dickens Wasonga, Gaitano Pessa, Ian Byron and Elizabeth Ojina

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