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Three killed and acres of maize farm destroyed by floods

RIFT VALLEY
By Sunday Standard team | May 10th 2020

Three people have been killed by flash floods in Narok East Sub-county as heavy rains continue to pound the region.

Over 700 acres of agricultural land have been destroyed, and several head of cattle and donkeys swept away by the raging floods.

The Narok-Mai Mahiu highway is flooded, with authorities warning motorists to be cautious on the route.

Acting Narok East Deputy County Commissioner Okumu Oloo urged the Kenya National Highways Authority to open up drainage along the road to pave way for the flood waters.

Timothy Surum, a resident of Kikuyan, said acres of farms have been swept away, a phenomenon that has never been seen before.

“I lost a neighbour to the floods and over 1,000 acres under maize destroyed by the flood waters. We do not know where to start,” said Mr Surum.

Narok East MP Lemanken Aramat said the government should send geologists to the area to establish the cause of an underground water hole.

He said over 200 families have been displaced.

“We have suffered. We have lost lives and property. Our people are staring at a disaster should the government fail to address the flooding urgently,” said Mr Aramat.

Narok Governor Samuel Tunai asked residents living in flood-prone areas to move to safer grounds.

Farmers in upper parts of Embu County are also counting losses running into millions of shillings after their crops were destroyed by floods.

Several houses have also flooded, rendering families homeless. Those affected appealed for government support for food and to relocate to higher grounds.

County Department of Agriculture estimates that affected farmers will get less than 20 per cent of their normal harvest.

Agriculture Executive Jamleck Muturi said the situation was caused by dams in Mt Kenya Forest that filled up due to the heavy rainfall that filled up rivers Thabana and Kamwangi.

He said the two rivers have broken their banks and flooded large swathes of land under maize, kales and other crops.

“These people solely depend on agriculture as their source of livelihood, but now the floods have ruined their crops. Add to the effects of Covid-19 on the market for farm produce and it is a disaster,” said Mr Muturi.

Muturi said the county government will work with its partners to get farmers certified seeds for replanting. He appealed to other government agencies to intervene.

He urged farmers living in riparian areas to build terraces and practise minimum tillage to prevent soil erosion.

“We advise farmers to leave at least 10 feet from the river. They can plant nappier grass on that space. On the terraces, they can plant sweet potatoes which will provide them with food and fodder,” he said.

The executive said it was not all gloom since in the lower semi-arid areas of Mbeere, farmers were looking forward to a bumper harvest.

In the neighbouring Kirinyaga County, several acres of rice have been destroyed after River Thiba broke its banks and water flooded rice farms.

Samson Gitari, a farmer in Thiba, said a portion of his rice field where he usually harvests eight bags of rice was submerged and the crop destroyed.

Kithogondo and Soweto are also affected, with maize and rice crops destroyed and houses flooded.

Residents now fear there could be an outbreak of waterborne diseases since their water sources have been contaminated. They have called on the government to intervene.

Elsewhere, 15 families from Soin ward in Sigowet-Soin Constituency, Kericho County, have had to abandon their homes and move to Sertwet Primary Schools, fearing landslides. Huge cracks have developed on the ground in Chebiit, Kapkormom and Kapchebwai villages.

David Tergech, a Kapkormom resident, said he last witnessed such a phenomenon in 1961.

Soin Assistant County Commissioner Josephat Mwangangi said they asked residents to move to the school compound to avert a disaster.

“The heavy rainfall, which has been pounding the area, claimed the life of an elderly man at Kapsorok last week. The man drowned after trying to cross a swollen river,” he said.

Mwangangi, who was accompanied by Soin MCA Josephat Ruto, said cash crops in Gechiryet and Kapchebwai divisions had been destroyed.

“The flood waters have submerged large tracks of land there. There is real danger that the villagers will not harvest maize, sugarcane and other crops this year,” he said.

Ruto distributed foodstuff, blankets and mattress donated by the county assembly and the county government.

(By Robert Kiplagat, Joseph Muchiri and Nikko Tanui)

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