400 made homeless by floods as fear of landslides spooks villagers

Tom Otieno | Nation
Mr Benson Otieno and his family inside their flooded house at Magina Village on December 30, 2012.

What you need to know:

  • Rivers Nyando, Nyalbiego and Awasi breach their banks under heavy rains and sweep away houses, livestock and property at two villages in Nyando

More than 400 people have been rendered homeless after River Nyando breached its banks and flooded their homes in Nyando District.

The families camping at Ogwedhi and Apondo primary schools on Sunday appealed for humanitarian assistance from the government and relief agencies.

Nyando DC Isaiah Tanui visited the victims on Sunday and assured them of government support.

‘‘I have come to assess the number of victims so that I can forward the names to the relevant authorities,” he told the displaced persons.

The victims told Mr Tanui that they needed medicine, food, blankets and tents since they were sleeping in the cold.

They also recounted of how they lost their household property and livestock to the raging floods that swept the area following a heavy downpour at the weekend.

The surrounding rivers— Nyando, Nyalbiego and Awasi— are said to have burst their banks and overflown the dykes, wreaking havoc in Magina and Apondo villages.

Community policing chairman Joash Oliech said the two villages had been worst hit because they are surrounded by the three rivers.

The DC warned the residents against cultivating near the dykes, saying it reduces their ability to prevent flooding.

Nyando MP Fred Outa also toured the affected areas at the weekend and called on the government to implement a policy that would provide a long-term solution to the floods menace.

Mr Outa asked the government to put up dams and dykes in areas that receive high amounts of rains to prevent floods.

‘‘We need to also unblock silt in the seasonal canals. This will create a permanent solution to our people,’’ Mr Outa said.

During heavy rains, the seasonal canals are blocked resulting in the rivers bursting their banks and flooding adjacent areas.

The lawmaker called on the government to act quickly as hundreds of people had been affected by floods not only in Nyanza but in other parts of the country.

A three-month-old baby, Lincoln Omondi, who was rescued by his father after his mother slid and fell in the flood waters, is among those camping at the schools.

‘‘It was around 10pm and it was raining heavily. As I was trying to run to safety with my baby, I slipped and dropped Lincoln in the flood waters but the father rescued him,’’ said Ms Dorothy Awuor, the mother.

Ms Awuor and her family are among people who have been rendered homeless in Magina and Apondo villages by the floods.

A visit by the Nation to various homesteads on Sunday revealed that old men and women who could not move to safer grounds were still holed up in their submerged huts.

At the same time, 24 families in Etago location, Gucha South district are living in fear that their houses might sink with them as heavy rains continue to pound the area.

Some of the villagers have vacated the area but the majority are still in their houses due to what they attributed to “lack of alternative land to settle”.

Mr Kennedy Mouko, a father of four, told the Nation that his family had been sleeping at a nearby private primary school for fear of landslides.

“We have reported the matter of a landslide and the government has not taken any initiative to help us move out of this place. Rich people have already bought land elsewhere but for us we are poor,” Mr Mouko said.

Etago Division Public health officer Samuel Amka called on the residents to report any signs sinking land as they seek alternative land.

“I am urging the people of this region to be more concerned about their lives rather than risking and blaming the government for not providing alternative land,” the public health officer said.

Mr Amka in a brief statement to the media said he had ordered the closure of Nyasasa Secondary School in April after cracks emerged on walls of its buildings.

He also wants the school to improve its sanitary standards.

“The fears of landslides in the region demand proper sanitation to avoid the outbreak of contagious diseases like cholera. Proper toilets and treatment of water is required,” he said.

Mr Amka further indicated that the government was exploring ways of helping the families at risk of landslides.

“Twenty four families need to be resettled, but the government has to follow the due process,” he said.

Reports by Everline Okewo, Ramenya Gibendi, Kurian Musa.

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