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Parts of Got Agulu sub-location. More than 20 families have been displaced and crops destroyed by floods. [Isaiah Gwengi]

Nyanza
Most residents of the two villages rely on small-scale farming for survival. Since the rains started, however, their livelihoods are under threat.

For the last eight years, Robert Asoyo has enjoyed bumper harvest of tomatoes and other crops, thanks to enough rains. He has always harvested enough for his own consumption and sold the surplus to neighbouring villages and beyond.

But today, Mr Asoyo is not a happy man. His farm and those belonging to more than 500 other villagers have been washed away by heavy rains that have pounded the area for the past three days.

For the residents of Ulowa and Urima villages in Got Agulu Sub-location, Siaya County, flood is no longer just water. The floods have washed away everything, leaving behind traumatised residents.

The residents have been caught up between the devastating effects of dry and rainy seasons. They are doomed when it is dry and doomed when it rains. In the past three days, it has rained almost daily. They have literally got more than they prayed for. It’s disastrous and residents are angry about the situation.

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Most residents of the two villages rely on small-scale farming for survival. Since the rains started, however, their livelihoods are under threat.

The situation is scary and many residents feel helpless. They have expressed their frustrations at the slow response by the authorities.

Yesterday, farmers said they had suffered huge losses and that they would have to start from “square one”.

Swept away

“We don’t know where to start. Crops whose value is close to Sh500,000 have been swept away by the floods in the last three days,” said Asoyo.

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He said crops such us tomatoes and potatoes were either swept away or are submerged and will be rotten by the time the waters subside.

“We are back to where we started four months ago. We are left with nothing and we are appealing to the government and other well-wishers to come to our aid,” he said.

And as if that is not enough, the government’s order for people to stay at home due to the spread of coronavirus has added to their nightmare. The floods have displaced hundreds of families, rendering them homeless.

“It is sad that the government is paying more attention to Covid-19 than our suffering, which has been there for many years. We neither have food to eat nor a place to call home,” said Grace Atieno, a resident of Ulowa village.

Fredrick Ogwela, another villager, said they have always prayed for rain, but when God finally answers their prayers, they fear incurring losses.

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“Fishing was our only source of income, but when the catch went down, we resorted to farming,” he said.

He termed the situation unfortunate and blamed their tribulations on lack of preparedness by the authorities.

“Adequate measures should be put in place and a lasting solution to the perennial flooding found,” he said.

Latrines have also been submerged and the residents now fear a possible outbreak of waterborne diseases.

Roads have been rendered impassable, with Siungu and Honge beaches being the most hit.

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The flooding has been attributed to the dilapidated Goye causeway.

The residents say constructing the causeway will offer a lasting solution to the flooding problem. “The causeway as it is now has outlived its usefulness,” said George Aduong’a, a resident.

William Okara, whose house has been marooned by the floods, says he does not know what to do.

Stranded with family

“Life has become very difficult because getting a place to move to with my family is a challenge,” said Mr Okara.

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Contacted for comment, Kenya National Highways Authority regional director Phelix Osongo said they have already dispatched a team to assess the situation for immediate action.

In Nyatike, over 300 families were yesterday left stranded after their homes were submerged in floods.

A sport check by The Standard on Saturday revealed that several families were living in distress after their houses were destroyed by floods.

At Nyora Angugo village in Kakelo Kakoth Sub-location in Nyatike Sub-county, we met Elizabeth Akinyi, a 60-year-old widow, who narrated the agony she was going through after floods destroyed her house.

“I lost my husband five years ago and I have no one to help me. My house is submerged under flood waters and I have nowhere to go,” said Ms Akinyi.

The victims said rescue centres in Nyora, Kabuto and Modi primary schools where they used to camp are now out of bounds due to the coronavirus.

Kakelo Kakoth assistant chief Sospeter Oloo said the floods had affected 154 people in Nyora village, 107 in Konyango village and 70 in Kabuto.

“Our worry is how to get a good place to host the families, especially at this time that we are trying to fight congestion to contain the spread of coronavirus,” he said.

Migori CEC in charge of Environment and Disaster Management Elizabeth Ochae said social distancing rules had made it difficult to move the victims into camps.

“We are encouraging them to move to other homes temporarily as we look into how to support the affected families,” said Miss Ochae.


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