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Western region leaders urged to unite and address Budalang’i floods

The Devolution Cabinet Secretary, Eugene Wamalwa addressing flood victims in Bunyala Sub County on Sunday May 10, 2020. More than 40,000 residents have been displaced after River Nzoia burst its banks. Photo by KNA.
The Devolution Cabinet Secretary, Eugene Wamalwa handing over a bag of rice to one of the flood victims on Sunday May 10, 2020. Photo by KNA.

Leaders in Western Kenya have been urged to unite with a view to addressing the current floods affecting Budalang’i constituency.

Speaking  during a visit to flood victims in Bunyala on Sunday, the Devolution Cabinet Secretary (CS), Eugene Wamalwa said that the issue of floods has been a challenge in the area for several years.

“The issue of Budalang’i is like that of River Nyando which has been there for over the years, adding that there was need for a permanent solution.

The CS proposed construction of three dams to hold water from Bungoma, Trans Nzoia and Kakamega counties.

“If we construct a dam at Tongaren area and Lugari, we will be able to hold the waters and solve the flood problem in Budalang’i once and for all,” he said.

Wamalwa  stated that floods is no longer an exclusive problem in Budalang’i only, adding that over 4,000 people have been displaced in Kakamega and another 11,000 in Bungoma counties.

“We should therefore change our attitude and handle the problem as a regional issue and not a Budalang’i issue,” he said, adding that locals should be ready to pave way for dam construction when called upon.

Wamalwa pointed out that an agreement for dyke construction was signed three years ago and the contractor is on site but some residents have refused to pave way for construction works.

“In other areas, dams are being constructed, there is the Thwake dam in Ukambani, Thiba dam in Kirinyaga,” he said, adding that construction of a dam in Bunyala will not only control floods, but also double rice production within the local scheme.

He also noted that construction of Soin dam in Koru had also been politicized exposing residents of Nyando to perennial floods.

The CS assured the local residents that all governors from the region will work closely with the national government to ensure that dams are constructed, while saying that Sh.5 billion had already been set aside for construction of dykes.

Wamalwa added that the government will support the victims both in the camp and months after the menace.

“We are here to assure you of the government support until your life turns normal,” he said.

The  Kakamega governor, Wycliffe Oparanya said that the floods had claimed about 200 lives, noting that there was need for leaders to come up with a plan to ensure that Kenyans do not continue to die from floods.

“Initially there were plans to have dams in Kakamega but some people politicized the issue because it was then a problem of Budalang’i only, but now a number of them are willing to pave way after feeling the effects,” he said, adding that this is a special opportunity to come up with a lasting solution to the problem.

He challenged leaders to change their ways of doing things, adding that they were elected to serve the citizens.

“The leaders that we have currently are selfish and are already campaigning for 2022, the electorate should change their mind set and vote for leaders who are able to serve their interests,” he said.

At  the same time, the governor urged the government to include the issue of floods in the post Covid- 19 Economic Recovery Plan.

“We should involve locusts, floods and coronavirus so that funds are mobilized to assist those who have been affected,” he said.

Oparanya  argued that floods are a disruption of life and cannot be sustainable, adding that the Lake Region Economic Block (LBEB) will take the flood menace as a regional issue.

“We need to meet as leaders of LREB to plan the way forward,” he said, adding that County government should purchase parcels of land for the affected families to move in safer areas.

The  Busia Country Commissioner, Joseph Kanyiri disclosed that government has donated 2600 bags of rice to the flood victims.

Kanyiri stated that more than 40,000 victims are camping in 73 centres, including public schools, while others are staying with relatives.

By  Salome  Alwanda

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