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Heavy rains in Kenya leave trail of destruction

By Standard Team | May 2nd 2016

The Government will come up with a rain water-harvesting programme even has heavy rains continue to wreak havoc.

Speaking at a fundraiser in Kitutu Chache North, Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said areas that receive adequate rainfall should be able to harvest the water.

Residents of Got-Agulu in West Yimbo are living in fear after a bridge connecting the village to other areas was washed away by floods. The bridge was built more than 40 years ago and connects Got-Agulu to Usenge.

"We were pleased that the Government heard our cry and promised to renovate the bridge. The problem is that nothing is taking place; construction started late," said William Ogutu.

He added: "We have been experiencing perennial floods in this area because the culverts on the bridge are narrow, making the water to flow into our farms and homes."

The condition of the bridge continues to pose a big threat to the lives of motorists as it hangs precariously, and might collapse at any time.

According to Stephen Ogot, a farmer in the village, the Government should build dykes to address the problem as they look forward to constructing the bridge.

Found unconscious

And six people including a child on Friday night escaped death after their home was swept away by floods in Marakwet West following heavy downpour.

Five of the family members from Kasonok village were rescued at night but a six-year-old child was found unconscious on Saturday morning and taken to Kapsowar Mission hospital.

The floods also swept away five houses and irrigation water pipes valued at Sh400,000.

According to John Chepsoi a local resident, the heavy rains began on Friday evening and the incident occurred at night as they slept. "We fear for our lives. If the rains continue, our crops will be destroyed. We call on the county government to come to our aid," he said.

Following the incident, area MP William Kisang urged people living in the Elgeyo escarpment to move to safer grounds.

"This is one of the regions that have been declared prone to landslides and I am appealing to residents to seek alternative place to live in and avert life loss," he explained.

The MP said the national and county governments should come up with a lasting solution besides advising locals to move to higher grounds even if it means seeking alternative land for victims.

"The Government should adopt a land exchange programme and resettle all residents living in precarious areas especially on the hanging escarpment, which have been declared unfit for human settlement," said the MP.

The Government has mapped landslide hotspots as Embolot, Endo, Kaben and Mumol in Marakwet East sub-county, Kapcherop, Chebororwa and Kipsaya in Marakwet West sub-county and Kapchemutwa, Anin and Keu in Keiyo North sub-county.

Mr Wamalwa said some areas that do not have underground springs suffer during the dry seasons; a situation he noted should be contained through proper strategy in harvesting and storing the rain water.

The CS said the Government would send engineers to Kisii to conduct preliminary hydrological studies. He was responding to grievances by groups of women from Manga who walk for more than 2km down the steep hills that characterise many parts of the county in search of water.

Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko, who accompanied the CS, said despite the Gusii region being endowed with good rains throughout the year, accessibility to water remained a mirage. Japhet Mokaya, an aspiring MP for Kitutu Chache North, said many women and girls from the area were being diagnosed with arthritis; a problem he said may be associated with carrying water and heavy loads up the hill.

"Experts from Lake Victoria North will be visiting the area to do a survey for a new borehole and explore the prospects of pumping water from the nearby river. But above all, let everyone look at harvesting rain water as the most appropriate way of ending water shortage in this area," Wamalwa said.

Report by Stanley Ongwae, Isaiah Gwengi, Silah Koskei

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