Return of destructive Budalang'i floods after Lake Kanyaboli breaks dyke 

Floods ravage farms, houses in Budalang'i

What you need to know:

  • 800 households in Budalang’i have been submerged after the Lake Kanyaboli dyke collapsed.
  • The affected villages are Mabinju, Budala, Rukala, Runyu, Bulwani and Iyanga in Bunyala South ward.

The unfolding environmental disaster at Kanyaboli, an ox-bow lake in Siaya County, has jolted families from the neighbouring Budalang’i sub-county in Busia County.

The water flowing downstream from the lake whose dyke broke down last week has swamped homes in Budalang’i, displacing families and destroying crops, triggering a crisis in the flood-prone region.

Busia County Commissioner Kipchumba Rutto told Nation.Africa that 800 households have been submerged after the Lake Kanyaboli dyke collapsed.

The lake has been releasing a torrential flow of water downstream and there are fears that if no action is taken, the lake, which has already lost half of its water could cease to exist.

The water has affected several villages in Budalang’i, destroying crops and disrupting learning in schools.

The affected villages are Mabinju, Budala, Rukala, Runyu, Bulwani and Iyanga in Bunyala South ward.

In Bunyala Central ward, Buongo village has been affected while Bumacheke village in Bunyala North ward is also affected. 

Bunyala South MCA John Omumi and his Bunyala Central counterpart Stephen Nasiagi said the rehabilitation of the dyke should be given priority by the government before the situation gets out of hand.

“This will get worse downstream if nothing is done to mitigate the disaster. What is needed is a long term solution to end the suffering of families in Budalang’i who are forced to relocate from their homes because of the perennial floods,” said Mr Omumi.

 “The water from the lake is moving at a terrific speed and destroying anything in its path. The Siaya and Busia county governments are partnering with the national government to try and address the environmental disaster we are staring at.

Higher ground

“At the moment, all the crops in the farms have been destroyed. The affected families have relocated to higher ground and a team from the Kenya Red Cross is on the ground to provide support to the affected families,” said Mr Rutto.

Mr Joseph Okumu, a resident of Bumacheke village, said the floods had caused extensive damage to homes and crops.

“I have no home after the floods submerged the village. I have lost a maize flour mill and all the crops in the farm. I have no idea when the water will subside so that we can return to our homes,” said Mr Okumu.

On Tuesday, Busia Governor Paul Otuoma appealed to the national government to urgently intervene to avert the looming environmental crisis that has affected hundreds of families in Budalang’i.

Mr Otuoma said: “We need the military and the National Youth Service to respond to this disaster to avoid loss of lives and property. The Siaya and Busia county government cannot handle the situation on their own without support from the national government.”

Mr Otuoma, who accompanied Mr Rutto on a tour of the affected villages, said the national government should support the ongoing rehabilitation of the works by the Agro Lake Ltd.

The Yala Swamp has been leased out to the firm for 60 years in a deal worth 60 billion.
Lake Kanyaboli, the second largest ox-bow lake in Africa formed after River Yala disconnected from its course at the meander stage, leaving behind a U-shaped lake.

The water, which has been draining from the lake for the past one week, is flowing towards the lower part of Yala swamp.

The lake forms part of the ecosystem that comprises Yala Swamp and two satellite lakes – Lake Nyamboyo and Lake Sare — which are known as the jewels of the Yala.