RAINY SEASON

Lake Baringo flooding imminent — lobbies

Last year lakes throughout Rift Valley flooded, destroying property and displacing thousands

In Summary

• Residents urged to move to higher ground to avoid disaster.

• Residents urged to plant more trees to reduce desertification, improve the environment and reduce flooding in the future.

 

Pupils wade through water to enter classroom at the flooded Leswa primary school, Baringo South on Thursday, Masrch 5.
NOT AGAIN: Pupils wade through water to enter classroom at the flooded Leswa primary school, Baringo South on Thursday, Masrch 5.
Image: JOSEPH KANGOGO

Massive flooding of Lake Baringo and environs is imminent, experts say, urging residents to move to higher grounds.

NGOs and the National Council of Churches of Kenya said all indicators this rainy season show the lake is likely to flood extensively again.

The lake burst its banks last year as did many lakes in Rift Valley.

“If the lake bursts, a huge population living near the water will be displaced and homeless," Reverend Christine Kipkoshiom said on Thursday.

She is the NCCK Woman Mediator for Baringo.

Kipkoshiom said residents in flood-prone  Ng’ambo, Leswa, Salabani, Long’ewan, Sintaan, Kiserian and Marigat villages are living in fear. She urged them to move.

Kipkoshiom attributed the frequent flooding and massive soil erosion to desertification caused by felling of trees for charcoal burning and cultivation along the rivers and natural water catchment areas.

Climate change, soil runoff into the lake, making it shallower, and geological changes are also cited.

Residents said they have no where to run.

"This is the place we have called home for many years, where else can we migrate to?” Leswa resident Bernard Lelebo asked.

Residents clear bushes to release water Leswa village, Baringo Southm on Thursday, May 5..
RISING WATER: Residents clear bushes to release water Leswa village, Baringo Southm on Thursday, May 5..
Image: JOSEPH KANGOGO

Lelebo said due to the downpour Leswa Primary School has already flooded, forcing children to wade through water daily to class.

Last year, as the water rose, attacks by hippos, crocodiles and snakes increased.

He said the government ought to intervene and allocate them alternative land elsewhere, “otherwise, as it is now we don’t have any option,” he said.

Last week Long’ewan metal bridge connecting seven villages across the flooded river Perkerra collapsed, cutting off free human and livestock movement.

More than 30,000 people were displaced after the lake overflowed its banks due during heavy rains last year. To date, the victims are yet to receive any assistance.

NCCK Baringo woman mediator RevChristine Kipkoshiom addressing media at the Kenya School of Government in Kabarnet town on Thursday, April5.
HIGHER GROUND: NCCK Baringo woman mediator RevChristine Kipkoshiom addressing media at the Kenya School of Government in Kabarnet town on Thursday, April5.
Image: JOSEPH KANGOGO

They are in urgent need of shelter, warm clothes, drugs and food although the national and county governments haven’t responded yet.

Earlier Baringo Deputy Governor Jacob Chepkwony said the county disaster department is underfunded so it cannot cater for all the emergency needs.

“Like for the victims of floods, we are appealing to the national government and international agencies to intervene because the destruction is so massive,” he said.

However NCCK South Rift coordinator David Njuguna attributed the endless disasters like flooding, drought and hunger in the region to high illiteracy among the locals.

“People ought to be educated and sensitised on the urgent need to plant more trees, grass and harvest rain water and engage in serious farming so they can uplift their livelihoods” Njuguna said.

He coordinates Baringo, Samburu, Nakuru, Narok, Bomet and Kericho counties.

Njuguna further suggested public participation on policies to build gabions and terraces to control soil erosion in communities.

He said more more agricultural extension officers should teach residents about smart agriculture and how to grow drought-resistant crops.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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