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Backflow of Lake Victoria has destroyed fishing in Migori County

Derrick Omondi is seated at his boat as he waits to serve a group of women who have waded through the water to purchase fish from him. [Anne Atieno, Standard]

Derrick Omondi is seated at his boat as he waits to serve a group of women who have waded through the waters at the Lwanda Konyango landing site to buy fish from.

Omondi, a fisherman at Lwanda Beach, which has now been marooned by water from the lake due to the backflow of Lake Victoria, has caught less than he expected and wonders if the day’s catch would give him enough money to feed his family.

He says the fish population has dwindled since the lake started swelling a month ago.

“Water from the lake has affected our business. Boats have trouble accessing the lake,” Omondi says.

The fisherman says he is forced to sell his catch cheaply to locals to avoid incurring further losses.

In the past, Omondi would make more than Sh5,000 a day.

Inaccessible

The phenomenon has disrupted fishing activities on the beaches along the lake.

The backflow of Lake Victoria has eroded 27 landing sites and destroyed fishing bandas in Migori County.

Omondi is part of the over 3,000 fishing community in Nyatike, whose livelihoods have been affected by the backflow, which has left the 27 beaches inaccessible.

They include Kao, Kimamra Modi Ng’wena, Muhuru, Kibro, Nam Rongo, Kimamra, Aluru and Ongoro Matoso, among others.

Only five out of the 27 beaches whose landing sites and bandas were submerged are not seriously affected.

The five include Lwanda Konyango, Aneko, Sori, Mugabo and Sumba Senye.

Maxwell Ogolla, who is Sori BMU member, says the water from the lake has affected their banda, and fish has reduced.

“The community here in Sori solely depends on fishing. If this continues, hunger will kill our people,” Ogolla says.

The landing sites, homes and hotel businesses along the lake are submerged.

Additionally, the situation has been made worse after the toilets on the beaches were also submerged.

Some fishing community members have been forced to vacate and move elsewhere, whereas others have been forced to work in water.

Julius Onyango, the chairman of Lwanda Beach Management Unit, says their landing site is blocked with bushes, and fishermen have a hard time accessing the lake.

“We fear for the worst if the water continues rising. The flooding has shocked us,” Onyango says.

Lower Central Kadem Senior chief Philip Orwa says the beaches are in the water, forcing the fishermen to trade in water or move elsewhere.

“Several houses have been affected and a number of the population moved away. The landing sites have been submerged up to Muhuru,” Orwa says.

National Chairman for Kenya National Beach Management Unit (BMU) Network Tom Guda says the rising levels of Lake Victoria have had almost 80 per cent of BMUs in Migori have their infrastructure deep in the water.

“The operations at BMUs have been affected and only work in makeshifts,” Guda says.

Migori Environment CEC Caleb Opondi says they are mobilising resources to meet the needs of the affected.

“We are having a meeting to mitigate those effects. We have mobilised our health teams to give medication to the affected,” Mr Opondi says.

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