FLOODS DISASTER

Swollen lakes and rivers kill 406, displace 21,000

Six of the fatalities caused by depression and associated mental illnesses

In Summary
  • The most affected water masses are Lakes Victoria, Naivasha, Baringo, Turkana, Elementaita, Solai, Olbolsat, Magadi and Bogoria. 
  • Government spokesman attributes the problem to environmental degradation, siltation and continuous heavy rains since 2019.
What used to Kenya Wildlife Service office, on the left and their canteen (right) submerged as Lake Nakuru waters increased. The lake has been swelling since early 2013.
Swollen water Mass What used to Kenya Wildlife Service office, on the left and their canteen (right) submerged as Lake Nakuru waters increased. The lake has been swelling since early 2013.
Image: LOISE MACHARIA
Government Spokesperson, Cyrus Oguna addresses the media at the Lake Nakuru National Park. On the background is the swollen lake that has submerged the what used to be the gate
Swollen Water Mass Government Spokesperson, Cyrus Oguna addresses the media at the Lake Nakuru National Park. On the background is the swollen lake that has submerged the what used to be the gate
Image: LOISE MACHARIA

Swelling lakes and rivers as well as floods have killed 406 people and displaced more than 21,000 others this year, Government spokesman Cyrus Oguna has said.

He said six of the fatalities were due to depression and associated mental illnesses after their properties were ruined.

Oguna spoke on Thursday after touring Lake Nakuru National Park where he inspected the damage caused by the swollen lake.

The water mass was 35 square kilometre in 2010 but it has swollen to 80 square kilometre.

The displaced families are living with relatives or in rented houses elsewhere.

Lakes Victoria, Naivasha, Baringo, Turkana, Elementaita, Solai, Olbolsat, Magadi and Bogoria have burst their shores and displaced thousands of people.

“Experts say that a phenomenon of this kind was last witnessed in the country in 1963. But the current one is bigger,” he said.

Oguna, who was accompanied by Nakuru County Commissioner Erastus Mbui, Deputy Governor Eric Korir and county Environment executive eommittee member Mureith Kiogora, said the government was concerned about the disruption of socio-economic activities of those living next to the water bodies.

“The state will put every effort in place to alleviate the suffering of our people. The situation is being monitored keenly as we are not sure the lakes, dams and rivers will continue swelling or recede,” he said.

Last month, the government promised to help families displaced by Lakes  Nakuru and Naivasha.

Environment PS Chris Kiptoo said the government was looking for short and long-term solutions to ensure the affected residents rebuild their lives.

Oguna said a multi-agency task force constituted at the national level to compile a detailed report on the underlying causes of the rising water levels lakes would come up with recommendations on how the affected families will be catered for.

He said flamingo had fled Lakes Nakuru, Elelmentaita and Bogoria. The more than 1.5 million flamingoes in Lake Bogoria alone had been reduced to a mere 100,000.

Oguna blamed the situation on environmental degradation, siltation and heavy rains since last year.

However, the Rift Valley lakes started swelling in 2013.  Major displacements happened this year.

Korir said the county government was assisting the affected families in Nakuru and Naivasha.