Agony as Ahero floods destroy Sh. 800 million rice, displace villagers

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The NIB Western Schemes Senior Manager, Joel Tanui at one of the affected farms in Ahero. Photo by KNA.

Rice  worth Sh.800 million at Ahero and West Kano irrigation schemes has been destroyed after River Nyando broke its banks and swept through the farms.

The raging floods experienced over the last three days have also extensively damaged the National Irrigation Board (NIB) infrastructure at the two schemes.

Large swathes of land have been submerged in water with newly planted seedlings being washed into Lake Victoria.

The  NIB Western Kenya Schemes Senior Manager, Joel  Tanui  said over 7, 500 farmers at the two schemes have lost all their produce to the floods.

Tanui  who estimated the value of the produce on the over 4,000 acres at Sh. 800 million said the disaster was the worst to be experienced in the area in decades.

Besides destroying rice farms, he said majority of the farmers were now homeless after their houses were swept by the floods.

Other crops among them maize and beans, he said have also been swept by the floods posing a threat to food security in the area.

Critical infrastructure in the schemes, including culverts, canals, roads and bridges, he said, was not spared and will require millions of shillings to repair.

The  Ahero Irrigation Scheme Chairman, Alphonse Ouko said the catastrophe was the worst to hit the area in decades disclosing that the last incident of such magnitude was experienced in 1962.

Farmers, he added, have been hit by double tragedy by losing all their farm produce, livestock, homes and household items amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

To rebuild farmer’s lives, Ouko called for a bailout from the government to enable them till the land afresh and replant.

The  bailout, he said must come in form of farm inputs, fertilizer and support in tilling the land since they have lost all their investment to the floods.

“We had just finished applying fertilizer but all that has been washed into Lake Victoria,” he lamented.

To end the floods menace, the NIB has called for speedy construction of dykes along the banks of River Nyando to avert similar calamities in future.

Tanui  added that the construction of Koru-Sunoi Dam upstream, which has stalled, was the long term solution to flooding in the area.

He urged the relevant government agencies to fast rack the construction of the dam among other interventions to avoid incurring such losses in future.

The  Manager further urged the county and national governments to assist farmers till the land at the same time give them incentives in form of seeds and fertilizer to enable them replant.

Elsewhere, the Bura MP, Ali Wario is now calling on school managements in Madogo, Tana River County to allow victims displaced by floods to take shelter in their learning institutions.

Addressing the press in Madogo, Wario said that the temporary camps the victims used to settle in during floods cannot allow for social distancing making the camps a fertile ground for the dreaded coronavirus to spread.

Wario said that because the schools are closed due to the Covid-19, the school management should open doors for the victims at ‘these extra ordinary times’.

“We understand that schools kept away the floods victims because they damaged the institutions infrastructure in the past. These are extra ordinary times and calls for extra ordinary measures,” Wario said.

The MP appealed to the government and NGOs to move with speed and provide relief assistance to the hundreds of families from Mororo, Bakuyu and Ziwani who have fled their homes because of the raging floods after river Tana burst its banks.

More than 500 acres of irrigation farms have been submerged by flood water in parts of Madogo after River Tana burst its banks following heavy rains pounding upstream the river Tana, dashing farmers’ hopes of receiving the anticipated bumper harvest.

Mohamud  Ali, a program officer with Arid Lands Development Focus (ALDEF) said the farmers have been hard hit by another disaster after the locust menace destroyed their farms a few months ago.

By  KNA  Team

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