Kenya: Western Kenya Leaders Say Dams Will End Floods Menace

Garissa residents wade through floods after the River Tana burst its banks following days of torrential rain.

Leaders from western Kenya have resolved to revive the building of dams that stalled due to cultural practices.

The leaders have said that the dams will help end the perennial floods menace that continues to ravage several parts of the region. Over 100,000 people in four western Kenya counties have been affected by the floods caused by the ongoing heavy rains.

The leaders, including Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya, Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong, his Moses Mulomi and Budalang'i MP Raphael Wanjala, say they will treat floods as a regional and national issue.

PERMANENT SOLUTION

Governor Oparanya, who chairs the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB), said governors in the will take up the matter with the national government with a view to finding a permanent solution.

Speaking in Budalang'i Sub-County on Sunday where they distributed relief food and non-food items to flood victims spread across 73 camps, the leaders said building of dams and dykes in designated upper areas of Kakamega, Bungoma Trans Nzoia and Kakamega counties will offer a permanent solution to the floods menace in Bunyala area.

LUGARI DAM

Mr Oparanya, the Kakamega governor, said cultural practices halted plans to build a dam in Lugari in 2011, noting that residents have now woken up from slumber to sanction the project after the current floods affected over 5,000 people in his county.

He added that they are taking the floods as a LREB issue, noting that they are more devastating than even the coronavirus pandemic having claimed the lives of over 200 people.

"This is an opportunity to get a lasting solution to the floods which used to be a Busia affair but have now spread to Bungoma, Kakamega [and] Trans Nzoia, thus the need for dams upstream in Lugari, Tongaren and Webuye," said Mr Oparanya.

PRIORITIES

He said governors from LREB counties will convene a meeting with the national government to set priorities straight with a view to finding a permanent solution to the floods menace.

Mr Oparanya added that economic recovery plans after Covid-19 should factor in the floods and desert locusts. He appealed to Bunyala residents to relocate from lower zones which should only be reserved for farming activities.

Mr Wamalwa said the situation in Budalang'i is serious, thus the decision to triple rice supplies from 500 bags to 2,600 bags.

"The government will continue offering humanitarian support to flood victims across the country. A permanent solution to floods in Bunyala will entail construction of dams in upstream counties and permanent dykes in Bunyala," he said.

On his part, Mr Ojaamong said they decided to put their heads together as governors and the national government to find a lasting solution to floods ravaging the region.

He urged the national government to take the floods matter with the seriousness it deserves, saying that the damage caused by the deluge is worse than the effects of Covid-19.

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