By Robert Rutoma
The Governor of Kisumu County in Kenya Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o has attributed floods that have wreaked havoc in Kisumu to lack of proper controls of water flows at Owen Falls Dam in Uganda.
The dam, which was recently renamed Nalubaale, is built near the source of Lake Victoria whose waters are shared between three countries: Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
The Governor stated that this loophole on the Ugandan side had caused the lake’s waters to rise to record levels, submerging landing sites and homes in Kisumu and other areas of the town situated on the shores of Lake Victoria.
Alarmed by the unprecedented devastation, Governor Nyong’o issued an urgent call to the seating East African Community to help resolve the flooding crisis in the county that has since left thousands of residents of Kisumu and several other areas displaced.
As an urgent intervention, Governor Nyong’o called for a restructuring of the management of Owen Falls Dam in Uganda, or Nalubaale, which controls the outflow of Lake Victoria. The dam is one of the major sources of electricity for Uganda, with an installed capacity of 184 megawatts.
The Kenyan official raised concerns that the lake’s basin may continue to receive above-normal rainfall. “Under the chairmanship of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, I call on heads of the six-member states to sit down and ensure the natural flow of Lake Victoria is not interfered with.
“It is alarming that the water level is rapidly increasing and having impacts on various activities and communities around the lake,” Nyong’o was quoted saying by Ebru, a Kenyan TV website.
Results of an assessment conducted by the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) released on Thursday, May 14, 2020, revealed that the level had surpassed the 13.41 meter mark recorded on May 5, 1964.
Record floods have devastated East Africa this rainy season with almost half a million people displaced. Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest fresh water lake.
According to reports, property worth millions of shillings in Entebbe and Jinja in Uganda and in Kenya’s Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Homa Bay and Busia have been destroyed. It is the same scenario in Mwanza.