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Agony of residents as village turns to island

By Kevine Omollo | April 13th 2020
Residents of Kadhiambo village in Nyando, Kisumu county wade in flood water in the village as a result of the swelling lake. [Denish Ochieng/Standard]

Until November last year, residents of Kabonyo in Nyando, Kisumu County, did not recognise the boundaries between the Kadhiambo and Nduru clans.

That was until Mother Nature struck. Now, the swelling and backflow from Lake Victoria have cut right through the middle of the two clans.

Kadhiambo, which is the closest to the lake and inhabited by about 700 families, is now a small island, while Nduru remains on the mainland.

The two clans have been interdependent since time immemorial; that is why one of the beaches within Kadhiambo land is named Nduru.

Many residents of Nduru have to pass through Kadhiambo to access the lake, and residents of Kadhiambo have to pass through Nduru to access the market and other social amenities.

But when The Standard visited the area yesterday, things had changed. Now, one has to part with at least Sh50 to access either side.

At Amboo, the swollen lake has swallowed a 500-metre stretch of the road, and only boats can cross over to the other side.

“We have been introduced to a very different kind of life. Nobody can cross the water on foot, especially women, children or the old,” said Joseph Abuto, a pastor.

About 450 families whose houses were destroyed by the water have moved to Nduru, while those whose homes are on higher ground have chosen to remain in the village, which is now an island.

Water levels

According to a recent study done by the North Carolina State University’s Department of Marine, Earth and Atmosphere Sciences in the US, water levels in Lake Victoria will rise in the next 10 to 15 years due to changes in weather patterns as a result of global warming.

Fredrick Semazzi, a professor at the North Carolina university and director of climate, said the lake will replenish its waters at an almost unprecedented rate, which will result in the rise.

He said the swift and unexpected resurgence would lead to destruction of property.

“The climate change projections indicate that we should expect an increase in rainfall along Lake Victoria. There is this dichotomy that the current decrease in rainfall is going to stop and an increase will be experienced,” he said.

The research said use of advanced meteorological tools alone would not be sufficient because there would be a need to train experts on how to handle them to get credible predictions.

Collins Obura, one of the canoe operators along the crossing line, said it takes between 10 and 20 minutes to row from one end to the other.

He was previously a fisherman, but the lake's rising levels and the ongoing dawn-to-dusk curfew have forced him take a break.

And his services are desperately needed as several beaches and landing sites in the area are now completely marooned, destroying families' livelihoods.

In the last few months, the region has been experiencing backflow from the lake, which scientists attribute to climate change as nature unleashes its wrath.

Paid off

Mr Obura's leap into canoeing has paid off; he says his income from plying the Kadhiambo-Nduru route has been good.

“It is not that we are celebrating this new phenomenon - the harm it has brought surpasses the benefits. Many people are suffering and there should be some intervention,” he said.

Kalasina Atieno, a fish trader from Kadhiambo, said she now has to spend more money on transport.

“Since I got married here 17 years ago, this is the first time I am experiencing this. We used to walk to the market, which is just across, but now we have to spend about Sh100 to cross to the market and back,” she said.

Ms Atieno said the additional costs, coupled with short trading hours brought on by the curfew, has seen many women abandon their businesses.

The situation has also compromised hygiene in Kadhiambo and Nduru as the flooding has led to the overflowing of many latrines.

Yesterday, well-wishers led by academician Humphrey Obora donated foodstuffs to 250 families cut off from their neighbours.

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