Farmers count losses as floods destroy crops

Watermelon farm destroyed by floods. [Courtesy] 

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

A section of farmers in Kericho, Uasin Gishu and Busia counties lost tomatoes, maize and beans.

Josphat Kirui, one of the affected farmers in Kericho, said his tomato farm was destroyed by floods and mudslide.

Farmers in Kericho county which is as the country’s “food basket” are now looking for seeds in preparation for the next planting season.

“The kind of suffering we are going through now is terrible,” said Kirui.

"This incident happened at night it's only this morning that we realised that the whole shamba under tomatoes was destroyed and you can imagine the investment in terms of farm inputs,” he said.

He has appealed to national and county governments to assist the affected farmers.

Another farmer, Samuel Rono, lost his maize crop following a mudslide in the area.

"I had planted almost two acres of maize which were doing well before the mudslide but now it's unfortunate that this disaster struck,” 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, Uasin Gishu county 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.

Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii and the Kenya Red Cross Society team 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 Bii.

The governor urged landowners in highland regions to allow response teams to create water diversions to nearby streams to curb floods 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 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 the 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 in the area to construct an extension of the dykes in a bid 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 is 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,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 ongoing rains to plant tree seedlings and increase forest cover to combat climate change.

Sitatunga ward MCA Simon Murei said the prevailing weather is conducive for tree planting.

Speaking after distributing 50,000 tree seedlings 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 through tree planting.

"Increasing forest cover is crucial in preserving biodiversity, preventing soil erosion and mitigating the effects of natural disasters such as floods and landslides," said Murei.

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

Margret Wanyaiti, a smallholder farmer from Huruma village in Cherang'any said planting trees will transform her life.

Benard Chemiat, a teacher at a local school said the success of tree-planting hinges on collaboration and partnership between government, civil society, and the private sector.

- Reports by Evans Yegon, Kericho, Mary Imenza and Titus Too and Martin Ndiema