State calls for donor support on rising lakes

PS says government requires Sh3 billion for relief and cash assistance to victims

In Summary

The water levels in the Rift Valley lakes and Lake Victoria have been rising since 2010, submerging riparian areas, farmlands, infrastructure and causing a humanitarian crisis.

Environment PS at a forest in Uasin Gishu county
Environment PS at a forest in Uasin Gishu county
Image: FILE

The government has appealed to the international community to help mobilise resources to address the humanitarian crisis caused by rising water levels in Lake Victoria and those in the Rift Valley.

The appeal came as a preliminary assessment report by a multi-agency team showed 28 people have so far died as a result of flooding caused by the rising water levels.

Three people died in Mwariki out of stress and depression while another six died in Kihoto after their properties were destroyed, the report said.

Mwariki was flooded by Lake Nakuru waters while Kihoto was submerged by Lake Naivasha.

"Human lives lost due to crocodile attacks were 19 cases," Environment PS Chris Kiptoo told a virtual meeting.

Livestock PS Harry Kimtai and UNDP Resident Representative Walid Badawi took part in the meeting.

The virtual meeting was also attended by officials from USAID, Unep, and the EU.

The water levels in the Rift Valley lakes and Lake Victoria have been rising since 2010, submerging riparian areas, farmlands, infrastructure and causing a humanitarian crisis.

It has adversely affected property owners, communities, biodiversity and wildlife.

Following the human crisis created by the flooding, the government formed six technical teams that went for an excursion and scoping of the lakes between October 21 and November 1 last year.

The scoping mission took place in lakes Victoria, Turkana, Logipi, Bogoria, Baringo, Nakuru, Elmentaita, Solai, Naivasha, Ol Bolossat, Magadi, Ewaso Ngiro South and the Turkwel Gorge Dam.

Kiptoo said the immediate needs of those affected include food, support shelter construction, emergency health services, and nutrition, portable water, hygiene and sanitation, psychosocial support, confidence-building, and hope restoration.

He said that in the medium term, livelihood restoration is needed.

This includes jumpstart capital for business, petty trades, retraining, and re-orienting mindsets of the affected persons to appreciate changing climatic regimes.

Catchment restoration, desilting, and opening blocked watercourses, river training, planned relocations, construction of damaged infrastructure and social amenities, comprehensive study, water resource monitoring, establishment of high and lowest watermarks is what is needed in the long-term.

"From the preliminary assessment, the rising water levels have caused the humanitarian crisis that calls for urgent concerted effort. The government, therefore, needs to mobilise resources to address the issue," Kiptoo said.

He said a comprehensive study needs to be conducted on the hydrology, geology, ecosystems, and social-economic factors at play in the region to clearly understand the causes of this phenomenon and its impacts.

In short term, Sh1,060,683,508 is needed for relief and cash assistance while Sh94,417,364 is needed for emergency health and hygiene services.

Water, sanitation, and irrigation require Sh312,568,250 while the emergency shelter kit needs Sh147,152,980.

The education sector needs Sh250 million with the PS saying all those who are boarding have been temporarily relocated.

Day scholars are studying in temporary structures, Kiptoo said. Agriculture and food security needs Sh128.9 million while environment and forestry sector needs Sh100,000,000 million.

The tourism and wildlife sector requires Sh438.5 million and fisheries Sh63 million.

The energy sector needs Sh227.7 million and another Sh2 million for monitoring and evaluation.

In short term, a total of Sh2.9 billion is needed.

Kiptoo said a Cabinet Memorandum has been prepared for approval.

The report cited enhanced and persistent rainfall over the catchments draining into the lakes since October-November-December-2010 with a peak in March-April-May-2013, March-April-May-2014, March-April-May-2018, October-November-December-2019, and March-April-May 2020 as the main cause of rising waters.

It said the increased discharge from springs and groundwater input due to saturated subsurface and recharged groundwater, as well as long term, lakes sedimentation through rivers feeding the lakes was also responsible.

Reduced evapotranspiration over the prolonged rainfall periods and catchment degradation due to anthropogenic activities enhancing sediment loading into the lakes was also cited as another cause.

Other include the setting of the lakes within confined basins in the rift floor that does not allow for the open discharge.

The report said the lakes receive substantial input from their lake-beds and springs around the lake some of which are hot water springs. Climate change impacts with the residence of the Indian Ocean Dipole in Eastern Africa have also been cited by the report as a cause.