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Flooding farmlands - Farmers count losses

 File [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Farmers across the country are counting losses after their crops were swept away by floods.

The worst affected regions are Kericho, Uasin Gishu and Busia counties where fields of tomatoes, maize and beans have been destroyed.

Farmers in Kericho, which is a main food basket, are now looking for seeds in preparation for the next planting season.

Josphat Kirui said his farm was destroyed by a mudslide. “This incident happened at night, and it’s only this morning that we realised that the whole shamba under tomatoes was destroyed. You can imagine the investment in terms of farm inputs.

“The kind of suffering we are going through is terrible,” said Mr Kirui, even as he appealed to the national and county governments to assist affected farmers.

Another farmer, Samuel Rono, lost his entire maize crop.

“I had planted almost two acres of maize which was doing well before the mudslide. It’s unfortunate that this disaster struck,” Mr Rono said.

At least 50 subsistence farmers were affected in Kericho.

And several families spent Monday night in the cold after floods swept through villages in Cheptiret in Uasin Gishu and Budalang’i in Busia, leaving a trail of destruction.

The floods destroyed Cheptiret market, churches, eateries, business premises and residential houses. The area MCA’s office was not spared, either.

Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii and a team from the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) toured the area on Tuesday morning to assess the situation and provide humanitarian aid to the affected families.

“We have formed a team as a county with the Kenya Red Cross Society and the county commissioner’s office. Measures will be put in place to prevent similar incidents in the future,” said Mr Bii.

Swollen streams

The governor urged landowners in highland regions to allow response teams to divert swollen streams to curb flooding as rains continue pounding the region.

“Most farm owners are draining water to the Eldoret–Nakuru highway which turned into a huge river following the Monday night floods. We are taking necessary measures as a team to prevent a crisis,” he said.

Budalang’i MP Raphael Wanjala, who assessed the situation on the ground, has piled pressure on President William Ruto to declare the floods a national disaster and deploy the military to the affected areas.

The lawmaker said deaths reported and the magnitude of the floods across the country warrant urgent intervention from multi-government and non-governmental agencies led by the military, National Youth Service and the KRCS.

He regretted that residents were rendered homeless after floods destroyed homes in Bunyala South Ward, parts of Bunyala West and Bunyala North. 

Wanjala urged the government to deploy the military to build an extension of the dykes to control floods. He noted that the area has been experiencing backflow from Lake Victoria and water from River Yala through the Yala swamp.

Several acres of farmland in Budalang’i are under water, leaving the communities living in the area staring at food scarcity.

Schools in Bunyala South have been submerged while others across the constituency were destroyed by floods. 

Among schools affected are Maduwa, Bulwani, Yanga,Runyu, Namabusi and Rugunga.

“Schools are opening next week and the government should find ways of fixing the challenges and have children access education from where they are camping. Some lost books and other requirements, and that should be addressed before reopening of schools,” argued Wanjala.

Meanwhile, residents in Trans Nzoia County have been urged to take advantage of the rains to plant tree seedlings and increase forest cover to combat climate change.

Sitatunga Ward Rep Simon Murei said the prevailing weather is conducive for tree planting.

Speaking after distributing 50,000 tree seedlings, Mr Murei said: “Climate change poses a significant threat and it is time we take proactive measures to mitigate its impact.”

He encouraged farmers to manage their land well and conserve the environment. “Increasing forest cover is crucial in preserving biodiversity, preventing soil erosion and mitigating the effects of natural disasters such as floods and landslides,” he said.

James Cabinda, an environmentalist, underscored the importance of tree cover, saying forests play a vital role in maintaining ecological balance.

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