Concern as high tides send ocean water into villages

Alarm as high tides send ocean water into villages

Residents and investors along the coast shores have expressed concern over the rising seawater after high tides breached the sea wall in Kwale County, flooding several buildings and villages.

Several villages in Vanga and Wasini Island near Shimoni in Lunga Lunga, Kwale County, have been inundated by floodwaters since the beginning of the week.

“We did not expect this. We knew that with the new moon, tides were going to be high just like every month, but it shocked us when they rose above the seawall that was constructed, getting into the houses,” said Haji Kulamba, a resident in Vanga.

The seawall was built to block flooding waters from the villages in Vanga. According to the residents, the wall has prevented water from their houses until this week.

In some villages in Vanga, near the Kenya-Tanzania border, like Mkwajuni and Jimbo, strong winds and waves destroyed makeshift structures constructed on the shores.

Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) Director Dr David Gikungu urged residents to move to higher grounds, saying water levels will rise further with the ongoing rainy season.

“This is something that we have been observing over time, especially in the lakes since about three years ago. This time around, that should be related to the rainfall that we are experiencing because all our rivers direct their waters to the lowest point which is the Coast,” said Dr Gikungu.


Several villages in Vanga and Wasini Island near Shimoni in Lunga Lunga, Kwale County, have been inundated by floodwaters since the beginning of the week.

Photo credit: Copyright

He advised communities living near the ocean to be cautious.

He said residents should move to higher zones until the season is over.

“This is a matter of observing what is happening. Institutions should also heed the warning and take necessary actions,” he said.

El Nino enhanced rainfall

Dr Gikungu said the extremely high tides should be associated with the water coming from the highlands because of the current rainfall pounding different parts of the country, which has come back-to-back with the El Nino enhanced rainfall of the October to December season that had extended up to January.

“The season is not gone yet and that is why people should be very cautious. It is not with every season that we have such features,” he explained.

He added that because of climate change, there are changes in the season, affecting the rainfall patterns, but the department has records.

Dr Gikungu said the Meteorological Department would keep informing locals about the weather and tidal waves to ensure they get prepared and stay safe.

In Wasini Island near Shimoni, residents are counting losses over the rising sea levels that have prevented tourists from visiting the ancient village and attractions.

Mohammed Wasini said all the coral reefs protecting the islands are now submerged.

A mangrove boardwalk, among the income-generating activities for communities on the island, has also been flooded by waters, locking out tourists from accessing it.

Breached seawater

A street in Vanga filled with water after the sea level rose and broke through the sea wall to residential areas on April 11, 2024.

Photo credit: Courtesy

“This is very strange. We have never seen the water come this high. Most of the tourists had to turn back in the last two days because they could not access the area flooded by seawater,” he said.

Part of the areas affected are small farms on the island, where Irish potatoes and banana plantations are submerged in saline water from the ocean. The floodwaters are a health hazard since public restrooms on the island are flooded.

“We have never seen such a phenomenon and it scares us," said Mr Kassim.

The high tides also dampened Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations in Diani Beach on Wednesday, with many holidaymakers forced to get out of the water in the evenings as tides rose.

“We have had to move the swimmers from the waters to prevent any accidents,” said Swale Mwendo, a rescue diver from the Kwale County Government.

“Since Monday, the tide has been very high up to 4.2 metres," he said.

Lucy Sada, a trader at Tradewinds Beach in Diani, said she hawks swimming wear by the beach but had to move out of the area due to the unusually high tides.

“We do not know how long this is going to last. I was expecting that my business would boom this week because of the Eid festival,” she said.