Budalangi

A Budalangi resident wades through flood water while some others use a boat to move around their village at Maumau area in Budalangi, Busia County, on September 15, 2020.

| Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

The forgotten Budalangi floods victims

A short distance from Budala Primary in Busia County, families have huddled in tents on a tiny parcel of land for the past two years.

The camp was set up on land belonging to a resident, who responded to their plight after they were driven from their homes by raging floods.

But two years later, the families still live in the cold, confined and crowded in white battered tents.

The affected families fled from their homes to escape the ravages of floods, which have seen some primary and secondary schools relocated.

ACK Musoma Primary and Musoma Secondary in Rukala sub-location were relocated after the institutions were swamped by the floods.

The road from Ndekwe market to Budala has also been cut off by flood waters and residents must board boats and pay Sh10 to cross safely.

Not even the officers at the Mau Mau police post could brave the havoc wrought by the floods, which turned everything upside down in Rukunga sub-location.

In Budala, the local primary school has for the past two years been a camp for families displaced from their homes by the floods triggered by the backflow of water from Lake Victoria.

Abandoned

Despite their plight, the affected families say they have been forgotten and abandoned after Mother Nature unleashed her fury from the lake and sent them fleeing into neighbouring villages to escape the floods.

The jutting white tents bustle with activity as the women go about their chores and forage for food so as to put a meal on the table for the children and other members of the family.

Budalangi: More than 500 families displaced by floods

In the camp, it has become routine for women to cook their meals in the open and share with the rest despite the deprivation their families are going through.

The affected are from villages in Bunyala South location and neighbouring Rukala location.

The families live in nine camps at Bunyala Cultural, Mmust, Khumwanda Budala, Rukala Dispensary, Khadundu, Runyu and Igigo.

The camp in Khumwanda has 282 families, the highest number among the nine camps, Bunyala (30), Mmust (27), Budala (45), Rukala (39), Khadundu (32), Runyu (38) and Igigo (22).

The camps are located in Bunyala sub-county. In the villages, the collapsed mud houses in homes swamped by the floods have been covered by bushes. Some homes are located close to the edge of the expansive Yala swamp and are still waterlogged, making it difficult for the families to return.

At Budala, Ms Josphine Juma is apprehensive about the future.

“We have been living in the tents for the last two years on this piece of land and the owner is now getting impatient. The water levels have gone down but we are unable to return to our homes because we do not have the money to buy material to rebuild our homes,” said Ms Juma.

39,000 acres of crops destroyed by Budalangi floods

Sixty-year-old Kamilet Nabwire Abala has been struggling to raise some money and feed herself and her children.

“Life has been tough for us here. Sometimes we sleep hungry for several days because we have no money to buy food. For the last three days, I have been down with malaria and that has made me very weak,” she said.

The families are appealing for support from the government to buy building materials so that they can return to their homes.

Mr Godfrey Wanjala, the Bunyala Sub-County Floods Victims chair, said the conditions in the nine camps were pathetic.

“Every day is a struggle for us because we lost everything in the floods. The families are struggling to eke out a living by doing anything that can earn them some money, including selling vegetables at the market,” he said.

But it is not all doom and gloom for the families in some of the villages ravaged by the floods.

Some families have gone back to their homes after the floods receded and are busy trying to rebuild their lives.

Others have cultivated their farms and planted kales, tomatoes, traditional vegetables, arrowroots and spinach.

Reaping big

The families are reaping big from their efforts by selling vegetables at the market.

But not all families are ready to return home as their homes are still flooded and their houses reduced to rubble.

The menfolk from the camps have turned to fishing as a source of income.

The Namabusi beach chairman, Mr Calvin Andera Anyande, said the situation was beginning to normalise in the flood-affected villages.

“We were hit badly by the floods and lost our sources of income but the situation has improved and some families are going back to their homes,” he said.

“The challenge we are facing is that the affected families have no money to build new homes and restart their lives afresh.”

Chiefs and their assistants in Bunyala South have been involved in campaigns seeking to support the families to return to their homes.

Rugunga sub-location Assistant Chief John Odino said: “We are now in the aftermath of the floods and things are beginning to improve despite the challenges the families have gone through.

“At the moment, we are happy that many families are cultivating their land and planting vegetables and other crops.”

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.