Local News

1,000 families left homeless as Lake Turkana water rises

Surging water levels move from 500 metres from the shoreline to 800 metres.

Aug 24th 2020 ยท 1 min read
1,000 families left homeless as Lake Turkana water rises

More than 1,000 families living along the shores of Lake Turkana have been displaced after water levels rose to a record high due to the ongoing heavy rains in the country and in neighbouring Ethiopia.

Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok confirmed that the surging water levels have moved from the usually 500 metres from the shoreline to 800 metres.

"The swelling lake has so far submerged the once dry white sandy beaches, beach hotels, public offices and nearby homes where at least 1,000 families have been displaced," Mr Nanok said.

He noted that the lake is also infested with crocodiles and hippos which when aided by the water will expose affected people to attacks.While calling on villagers to move to safe grounds, the governor said that fishing has also been interrupted rendering hundreds of people jobless.Hotels submerged

"Some hotels have been submerged and the fisher folks and residents near the lake have lost business. The adverse effect has already been felt in Turkana North and Turkana Central sub-counties." Mr Nanok said.Turkana North MP Christopher Nakuleu said that the unusual situation is greatly attributed to flash floods resulting from heavy rains which have been pounding Southern Ethiopia since last year.

He said that there has been continued excessive flooding in Southern Ethiopia, directing the flood water to Omo River, the main source of water for the lake.

"Due to frequent rains, there has also been consistent residual inflow from Turkwel River and major seasonal rivers contributing to the lake, resulting into a sudden rise in water levels," Mr Nakuleu said.Dam spill overAt the same time, Governor Nanok warned that at least 300,000 people living along River Turkwel are also expected to be displaced by the impending spill over of Turkwel dam.He explained that the ongoing rains in Mt Elgon and Cherangani Hills catchments has made the water in the dam to go beyond the highest level ever reached from the 1139.24 meters to 1149.09 meters above the sea levels as at August 20.

"The spillage of the dam is designed to occur at 1,150 meters above the sea level. I direct the county department of Administration and Disaster Management to continue providing alerts and sensitising residents at mapped wards such as Lobokat, Kaputir, Katilu, Lobei/Kotaruk, Turkwel, Lodwar Township, Kanam Member, Kerio and Kangatotha to move to higher grounds should the trend worsen," the governor said.He noted that his administration is working closely with the relevant national government agencies as well as development partners to establish a workable contingency plan with the objective of protecting human life, property, environment and alleviating human suffering resulting from the dam spillage.

The spillage is also anticipated to damage irrigation schemes and infrastructure, submerge Lodwar town and result in outbreak of waterborne diseases.

last updated: 2020-08-24@00:08