Boats waiting to ferry marooned villagers at Pombo in Nyando. [Michael Mute, Standard]

Lake Victoria's waters have risen to some of the highest levels in recent history due to the heavy rains pounding many parts of the country.

The situation is likely to prevail for years to come as heavy rains are expected to be the new norm owing to the effects of climate change.

In 2020, fishermen suffered huge losses because of rising water levels. And they are set to lose even more this time round unless the current heavy rains subsidise.

Besides the adverse effects on the fisheries industry, the rising water levels will also affect the blue economy.

The current conditions have undermined fish production, killed fish species, and destroyed fishing gear, boats and other equipment.


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"The situation is getting worse and fishermen are losing a lot," says Peter Mbowo, a fisherman at Kopiata Beach in Rarieda, Siaya County.

"The county and national governments have failed to come to our rescue,” adds Mbowo.

A survey shows a similar situation at beaches in Homa Bay and Migori counties. The lake's water has moved several metres inland and submerged hotels, restaurants and shops built along the lake's shore.

Popular entertainment spots in Siaya, Kisumu, Migori and Homa Bay counties have been inundated, leaving investors counting huge losses and thousands of jobs at stake.

"We have been counting losses running into millions. All the cooling plants and stores for stocking the catch have been filled with water," officials of Migori Beach Management Association said.

"The prices of fish have also declined as there are no storage facilities. Fish are being sold at throw-away prices to avoid the products going to waste,” they added.

In 2020, the backflow was believed to have partly been caused by Uganda's failure to release water into the River Nile at the Jinja water reservoir. This prompted the East Africa Law Society to sue the Ugandan government at the East African Court of Justice in Arusha for damages.

The case was filed by the former chairman of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Isaac Okero.

"Over two million families in Kenya rely on Lake Victoria fish, water and horticulture for daily survival and anything that threatens the lake must be solved urgently," says an economist-cum-lawyer Charles Ayoro.

Ayoro says the authorities must take urgent steps to resolve the problem of the backflow of waters in Lake Victoria.