Deaths, destruction as The Nzoia River bursts.
By Pricilla Kona
If you lived in Bunyala South area , of Busia county, chances of drowning would be 1/365 in every thunderclap season. After a lull of 7 years and with a spectacular swirl of her brown waters, the 237km long Nzoia River has done it again.
“ On 27th April at 2.00 am, the chilly waters entered our homes like a tsunami. My family and I groped to the Rwambwa Market where we slept in the cold till morning “ said Mr. Abala, the chairman of rice farmers.Many families here now live on higher ground at the Namalo Primary school , with a total of six families sharing one room. They have thrown caution to the wind ; the fear of Covid 19, as flooding takes precedence over all else.
And now the largely cultural and polygamous men here have another mountain to climb-accessing conjugal rights ‘in public’ They have no apologies about this and are said to complain aloud. Which is why the air at the refuge camp is pregnant with apprehension.
Never before had the Rwambwa – Mau mau road been under water. The banyala ‘ wrestler ‘ tag has found new meaning- you’ll find many now rowing boats to salvage proper. But their women are in their element; a legendary amicable mien and are chatting and cooking through their ordeal. Their stocky fish eating children play heartily in the school compounds oblivious of their unfolding plight.During the day men are strolling around to beat away their stress and contemplating on a future that appears as clear as mud.
A number of schools, spread-eagle all over the Bunyala county half of which is now submerged , play host to the unfortunate flood victims; Port Mixed, St Cecilia, Lugare, Sifugwe and Bubango Primary schools among others . Land here is scarce thanks to hill, lake, river, and swamp. And in some areas like Mundika, family houses stand a bit too close to each other. To the ‘hill’ families, flooding is unheard of. Stranger than fiction the lowland flood prone families have been rumored to confute their shoulders at relocation, for relief aid mileage?
The age old menace is today unprecedented. With the Mukhobola and Nyadorera sub-district hospitals marooned, where did the sick go to? The damage in schools is impossible to assess as some, like Rugunga Primary suffer flood losses.
‘’Three thousand acres of rice are submerged plus all our crops that were extensively grown to beat the Covid 19 pandemic threat. In our panic we left behind our livestock and these are now swimming aimlessly in the waters, some have already drowned” Mr Abala wept.
Houses ,temporary and permanent sit in water in Bunyala south location. Are the water people now gazing at a public health crisis? Why , sanitation at the refuge centers is compromised what with inadequate latrines.More ever, there is no clean water, the latrines in the lowlands are submerged and water borne disease incidence appears inevitable.
“Yesterday we buried 4 flood victims on the hillside and one in the muddy waters . My uncle, a victim went back home to salvage property only to turn into a ‘pillar of salt,’ “ he cried. As Busia leaders condole in turn with the flood victims, donating relief food and other domestic effects, which way , ‘water’ people known for high octane politics?
For how much longer, the devastation?