Back flow of water from Lake Victoria, has caused deaths, displacement and destruction of property in Kabonyo Kanyagwal ward, Nyando Sub-county in Kisumu County.
The residents have been hit so hard that beach and hotel operators in the area have been forced to relocate or close their businesses due to the water phenomenon.
Families stay alert during this period as water from the lake hits villages at night. The swollen lake has swallowed a 500-metre stretch of the road, and only boats can cross over to the other side.
Neighbouring Nduru and Kadhiambo clans have to part with at least Sh50 to access either side using boats
The residents, who rely on working as casual labourers in the neighbouring rice fields to fend for their families, have nowhere to turn to after over 50 hectares of rice field were covered in water.
The villagers say the last time they witnessed such an incident was in 1963, which they never understood because no explanation was given on what was happening.
“For the past few months, we have seen and experienced the worst. For the 20 years I have been married in this area, we have had floods once in a while, but never witnessed the backflow from the lake,” A villager from the area recounts.
Following the surge, which threatens to continue further, Experts assessed the situation in order to mitigate against the serious effects of flooding.
Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) has proposed regional strategies for emergency and disaster preparedness to avert more deaths and destruction.
LVBC executive secretary Ally-Said Matano stated that the current rise of water level was the highest witnessed since 1964. He said between 1960 and 1964, the water level rose 2.5 metres.
Matano warned that the rising water levels will continue and strongly recommended that people living in lowlands should vacate to avoid a disaster.
He stated that the rising water level was premised on the water balance, which is largely determined by the inflow and outflow. The inflow into the lake, he said, was primarily from rainfall, which accounts for over 80 per cent, and the remaining 20 per cent was from drainage systems into the lake.
Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o on his part called on the East African Community (EAC) heads of states to urgently intervene over the alarming rise of Lake Victoria waters.
Governor Nyong’o stressed on the need to resolve the management of Owen Falls dam in Uganda which controls the outflow of Lake Victoria, given concerns that the Lake Basin might continue to receive above normal rainfall.
He pointed out that lack of proper controls of water flows at Owen Falls dam by the neighbouring Uganda has caused Lake Victoria’s waters to swell to record levels, submerging landing sites and homes.
Five years ago a report from a study conducted by the North Carolina State University’s department of Marine, Earth and Atmosphere Sciences predicted the backflow.
North Carolina State University and director of climate, Fredrick Semazzi was quoted as saying Lake Victoria would replenish its waters at an almost unprecedented rate, leading to an abrupt rise in water levels. Many on the lakeside either ignored it or dismissed it as another global warming propaganda.
The result is now unfolding along the shores of Lake Victoria with a humanitarian and economic crisis that is rapidly taking its toll.
As leaders continue to ponder on the next move, the entire villages are now staring at hunger after losing crops and livestock. They accuse the national and county governments, as well as humanitarian organisations of not paying attention to their suffering. Schools have not been spared either.