Home General Flood menace becomes thing of the past for Budalang’i residents : The Standard

Flood menace becomes thing of the past for Budalang’i residents : The Standard

by kenya-tribune
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Workers use heavy machinery to build a dyke in Budalang’i. [Mumo Munuve]

Families affected by floods in Budalang’i have started trooping back to their farms thanks to successful efforts by the national government to manage the raging waters.

A walk through Ruambwa, Sitome, Mukhunja, Mukhuwa, Mudimba, Mau Mau and Bulwani villages reveals residents busy rebuilding their homes and lives.
Villages in the lower parts of Budalang’i, which have been deserted for the past five years, are now dotted with newly-constructed semi-permanent and permanent houses.
Most residents have resumed farming as seen in Ichigo, Makunda and Bukeki villages in Bunyala sub-county where crops such as sorghum, tomatoes, vegetables and cassava are flourishing.
Livestock roam freely and feed on lush vegetation in the fields sandwiched between the two major northern and southern dykes.
A water-metre gauge erected at Ruambwa and a defunct community radio station that would warn locals about impending floods now serve as a reminder of their sufferings.
Elias Nyongesa, 44, walks us through his farm where he harvested maize and beans recently.
“The bountiful harvest is as a result of goats’ droppings that I use on my farm instead of artificial fertiliser,” he said.
Like many other locals, Mr Nyongesa has adopted a free-range system where he keeps 15 dairy cows and 26 goats, many of which have young ones. He also keeps sheep and poultry.
“People have started putting up homes and venturing into serious farming activities,” said Nyongesa, pointing in the direction of a well-designed house barely 150 metres away.
Sand harvesting
Apart from the crops, he keeps cows and goats which give him surplus milk which he sells in the local market.
The increased farming activity has turned Bunyala into a chief exporter of vegetables, milk and meat in Busia County.
There is also growing demand for agricultural land in the region because the soil is fertile. 
Sand harvesting in River Nzoia has helped to control flooding by keeping water levels low while ongoing expansion works of the two dykes, measuring between 30km and 34km, have eased flood fears.
The rehabilitation works are part of the ambitious Sh7 billion Lower Nzoia Irrigation Project meant to address perennial floods and promote irrigation farming.
Bunyala Deputy County Commissioner Jacob Ruto said the National Irrigation Board has been overseeing the project – a venture being undertaken jointly by the national government and World Bank.
“The rehabilitation will guarantee stability of the dykes and help avert the perennial floods in this area once and for all,” said Mr Ruto.
Nyongesa believes the repairs will address the floods menace once and for all. He recalls vividly how floods swept away all his livestock and crops in 1995.
“I had a young family but together with my parents, we waded through floods for about 500 metres before coming to the Mau Mau-Ruambwa road, where other families who were fleeing their homes were gathering.”
Maybe the most memorable incident was when his parents helped him and his siblings to climb the only mango tree in their home in 1975 after raging floods destroyed their home and left them marooned.
“They were busy salvaging whatever was left as we watched from atop the mango, helpless and scared,” recalled Nyongesa.
He said that a group of youths would gather and evacuate the children left behind.
“To date, each household has a boat and several mango trees in their homes in case the floods return,” he stated.
Elizabeth Opiyo, another resident, said it was not easy living in the make-shift camps that they had to move to due to floods. The residents have been pushed to the camps on several occasions since 1960 until a few years ago.
“I wouldn’t wish to experience the same suffering again. Malaria and water-borne diseases were the order of the day,” said Ms Opiyo.
Sande Musiola told The Standard he had to flee Mumbira village to Buchiriba where he bought land and settled.
Huge losses
“Floods would hand me huge losses every year so I decided to relocate. But my parents refused to leave our ancestral land,” said Mr Musiola.
He now cultivates the farm he deserted but is reluctant to return home.
Stephen Bwire, another resident, said he prefers buying land away from the low lands just in case the floods return.
“I have been contemplating moving away but I don’t have enough money to buy another piece of land.”
Mr Bwire believes the dykes are a blessing.
“That we have not experienced floods for over five years is testimony that the dykes have worked their magic.”

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Related Topics
River NzoiaBudalang’i

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