Three siblings who died in Homa Bay floods laid to rest

Family members and relatives load caskets with the bodies of three siblings who died after being swept by flood waters for burial at the Kisaku home in Suba South Constituency. [James Omoro, Standard

The three siblings who died after being swept by raging flood waters in Homa Bay County have been laid to rest at their Kisaku home.

The three Calvince Otieno, 12, Evidon Otieno,7 and Moses Otieno, 5, were buried on Wednesday evening after a prayer service in Sindo Town in Suba South Constituency.

Benta Otieno, the mother to the deceased said her children were in the house with their father last Sunday before the raging flood waters demolished it sweeping them away.

Their father Silvance Otieno Okang’a survived the ordeal after he was rescued a few meters from their home by first responders in a critical condition and rushed to hospital.

“The children were in the house with their father but when I returned home immediately after the rain, I found my house already demolished. It is very sad to lose children in this manner,” Benta mourned.

In a prayer service presided over by area MP Caroli Omondi, his Bondo counterpart Gideon Ochanda, Nyaribari Masaba’s Daniel Manduku, Homa Bay CECM for education Martin Opere and area DCC Sebastian Okiring, residents mourned the deceased persons as people whose lives were cut prematurely.

According to Okang’a’s brother Daniel Okang’a the family also lost five houses and crops in the farmland due to the heavy rains and landslide.

“Apart from the three children, my brother lost five houses, and a lot of crops on farms, and he was also injured in the incident. This family needs a lot of financial support for recovery from the losses,’ Okang’a said.

The leaders who attended the prayer service attributed the landslide to environmental degradation on Gwassi Hills.

While calling for robust measures for conserving Gwassi Forest, Area MP Caroli Omondi expressed concerns over the magnitude of the landslide.

“The landslide moved stones the size of a probox vehicle a distance of more than 200 km and demolished homesteads. It was an unprecedented incident in this area,” Omondi said.

Omondi said they are going to collaborate with the Kenya Forest Service to start a massive programme for planting avocado trees on Gwassi Hills.

This, he said will help in environment conservation besides according to residents being a source of livelihood.

“I am in talks with the National Government so that we start a massive programme of planting trees on Gwassi Hills. We are going to focus more on avocado to accord residents a source of livelihood besides conserving the environment at the same time,” Omondi said.

He said the trees will combat the adversity of climate change.

“Climate change is real and we must put measures in place to prevent it. We require concerted efforts for conserving Gwassi Hills,’ Omondi said.

He promised to lobby for 3000 pieces of iron sheet from the government to help families whose houses were destroyed by the landslide.

“We have given these families the assistance to help them bury their loved ones. I am also launching distribution relief food today for the families which were affected by the floods,” Omondi said.

Opere, who represented Governor Gladys Wanga at the service said the county government will construct roads that were destroyed by the floods in the area when the rains reduce.

“It is still raining but the county government will rehabilitate the roads which have been destroyed by floods. I call the clergy to pray for our people to prevent this type of calamity,” Opere said.

Manduku promised to give 5000 trees when tree planting begins on Gwassi Hills.

“We must conserve this forest with trees,” Manduku said.

Ochanda urged residents to avoid human activities in flood-prone areas.

“Water will always find its way hence anybody who lives in an area prone to flooding should move,” Ochanda said.