12 killed as heavy rains continue to pound Nyanza and Western regions

Houses marooned by floods at Osika Village in Kamser Nyakongo location in Rachuonyo North Sub-county on November 7, 2023. [James Omoro, Standard]

At least 12 lives have been lost, and thousands of families find themselves displaced as heavy rains pound Western and Nyanza regions.

Migori emerges as the hardest-hit area, grappling with the aftermath of nine individuals drowning in separate incidents across Uriri and Nyatike constituencies over the past two weeks.

The toll on the region is exacerbated by the submersion of several villages in Migori, Busia, Kisumu, Kisii, and Homa Bay counties.

Numerous roads have been obliterated, and critical health facilities marooned by the rising floodwaters. County officials report a staggering 750 households displaced, with county secretary Oscar Olima underscoring the destruction of footbridges and roads caused by the rains.

Tragedy struck again last week when the ninth body was recovered in Thim Jope, Uriri constituency, swept away when the Oyani River breached its banks.

In the Western region, a somber tally of three fatalities is reported following the breach of several rivers.

Flash floods have submerged three wards in Bunyala sub-county, forcing thousands of households to seek refuge elsewhere. In Khwisero sub-county, River Yala’s overflow has ravaged numerous farms, displacing at least 50 households.

In Busia, a fisherman lost his life when heavy rains and strong winds capsized his boat during a Wednesday night fishing expedition on Lake Victoria.

The specter of displacement looms large in Budalang’i, where over 250 families residing in a camp since 2020 may be compelled to search for alternative shelter as water levels surge in River Nzoia, River Malakisi, River Lusumu, and River Lwakhakha.

Homa Bay is not spared from the deluge, with over 700 people affected by floods after the Yongo Dam in Suba sub-county breached its banks on Saturday. Yongo, Opuch, and Bonde villages now face an uncertain future.

Desperate residents are reaching out for assistance, urging the government, humanitarian organisations, and well-wishers to intervene and avert further disaster.

Sospeter Obino, a resident, says: “The dam has broken its banks, and our homes are flooded. We appeal to well-wishers to intervene and save us from the situation.”

Nyatoto sub–location assistant chief Norah Okumu warns of an impending humanitarian crisis, saying: “Many families will be displaced here if the rains continue.” The floods have also ravaged crops, posing a significant threat to food security.

Sub-Deputy County Commissioner Sebastian Okiring assures affected communities that government officials are conducting assessments in the affected areas. “I have received a report that the river broke its banks. We will give a comprehensive report once we are done with the assessment. The government will support the affected,” he said.

In Kisii, more than 60 families have sought refuge at Nyasasa Primary School as their homes developed cracks due to the heavy downpour in Nyasasa village, South Mugirango constituency.

Yesterday, Jacob Bagaka, the Deputy Speaker of the Kisii County Assembly, said funds have been allocated from the emergency kitty for mitigation measures.

“The Executive, led by Governor Simba Arati, will help the affected families. I urge all our residents to relocate to safer places,” he said.

Bagaka addressed families residing along major rivers, advising them to exercise extra caution to prevent disasters. “Let us not allow our children to roam freely during the rains,” he said.

Iin Kisumu’s Nyalenda B estate, Judith Otieno, a widow, expresses a deep concern as her house succumbs to floodwaters.

In a distressing turn of events, she has been compelled to find refuge in a friend’s house.

“Even though my children are a bit older now, I still face challenges in securing alternative accommodations with relatives and friends whenever it rains,” she said.

Other areas affected by floods are Ombaka, Nyando and lower Nyakach.

[Report by Eric Abuga, Anne Atieno, Sharon Owino, Benard Lusigi, Mary Imenza, and James Omoro]