Residents living in the shores of Lakes Baringo and Bogoria are appealing for assistance to mitigate the effects of rising waters from the two water bodies.
The lakes they once relied on for their living have now turned against them, displacing about 4000 residents and also submerging schools, hotels, hospitals and roads which they depended on for their day to day life.
Other than destruction of critical infrastructure like roads, schools and hospitals, the rising water levels have also exposed about 4000 residents to the risk of displacement, hunger and diseases.
The residents are now appealing to the government to move in and help them build resilience over the calamity.
Joseph Kangwony, a resident of Loruk in Baringo South say the waters have pulled them down to poverty as they have to relocate and build new houses.
“We don’t have much wealth here we rely on subsistence farming and fishing, thus we are going to be poorer because of this calamity,” added Kangwony.
He says the only school, Loruk day and boarding school is quickly disappearing into Lake Baringo and that their children risk not going back to school once it reopens, with the only other option being over 15 kilometers away.
“We only have three schools in Saimo Soi Ward and with Loruk being submerged, Lake Baringo secondary school also on the brink, while the other remaining secondary school is Kipcherere which is 40 kilometres away,” he said.
Kangwony also points to the road connecting Nakuru, Marigat with the centre, noting that the Lake has of already covered the tarmac road that also leads to Kapedo area and also cut off the supply of essential goods.
He called for humanitarian assistance in terms of food, clean water and medicines since they may contact water bone diseases and malaria as the condition is ripe for breeding of mosquitoes.
Kangwony adds that the rise of lake waters is historic and they have never witnessed it before but just heard from their fore fathers.
The Baringo North Peace Chairman, David Chemursoi says their farms have been affected by the floods and they risk suffering from hunger in the coming months.
“We are greatly affected, even our cattle dip has been claimed by the lake boundaries, so our big source of livelihood which is livestock may suffer from tick borne diseases,” added Chemursoi.
He says that despite the relative peace they have enjoyed from the cessation of banditry, the lake is now posing new security threat.
The two community elders say they also face attacks from animals like hippopotamus, crocodiles and snakes, living in the only other fresh water lake in the Rift valley.
The residents of Kampi ya Samaki, a town 15 kilometres away and once buzzing with tourist activities is slowly turning into a ghost town as the lake is quickly taking the spaces and pushing the residents far.
A motor boat operator, Dennis Kiptoo says they rely on tourism for their survival but with the submerging of hotels, many have lost jobs.
“Every day the water level is rising, all the hotels have submerged, our hospital and Lake Baringo Secondary school have also become part of the lake,” said the youth who says they are now competing for parking with vehicle operators on the tarmac as the beaches have been swallowed.
He says tourists fear the rising water and no longer visit the lake and says their misery’s other bed fellow, covid-19 has not made matters any better.
Another youth operator, Rogers Kipsang says the lake was their mainstay and they are set to suffer from the new development.
“The lake is now the new insecurity, the crocodiles are now coming to our doorsteps and this risks the lives of our children, the lake has pushed us and we don’t know where to go,” said Rogers with a desperate look he couldn’t hide.
They are calling on their leaders like the governor and the senator and the government at large to move with speed and find a solution to the problem.
The hotels affected so far are block hotel, Roberts Camp, Dessert Rose Camp and Soy Resort. The parks and sites affected are Lake Bogoria, lake 94, Ruko Conservancy and Lake Baringo Snake Park.
Other than huge losses occasioned on hotel players the county government is also set to lose on revenue it collects on these parks.
The ripple effect also extends to job losses to those serving the industry and the local business community meaning it may worsen poverty levels in the area.
The County and National governments have moved in to construct alternative roads in the affected areas.
Hotel players that are still in business like Lake Bogoria Spa Resort are optimistic that Tourism will peak and are encouraging Kenyans to promote the sector through local tourism.
“It’s now supposed to be the peak season but our numbers are still low at 40%, we hope the county government completes the alternative to the Lake bogoria game reserve on time so that our visitors can watch the dazzling ostriches that have trooped in a few weeks ago,” says the hotels manager Lydia Dentewo.
According to the Baringo South Deputy County Commissioner, Jacob Anunda who estimates the number of affected residents to be almost 4000, the government has moved to construct a diversion at Loruk on the Nakuru- Sigor Road which had submerged.
By Christopher Kiprop