Category Archives: Rain


Reports Leo Odera Omolo.

In an African society the arrival of the new rains season after along spell of the biting drought is regarded and viewed as good and promising the rural farming community of a bumper grain harvesting in the near future and food security.

However, the latest of the current short rains in many parts of Western Kenya has brought with it a lot of natural calamities and tragedies leaving many villagers in mourning mood.

Two male students were struck dead at Chepkemei Secondary School when they were struck by the thunderbolt early this week. Tragedy occurred on Monday at about 4.30 PM. It was during the game time when students were preparing themselves to go home after the day long classroom work.

Nan di County is laying about 200 kilometers north west of the Kenyan capital Nairobi and in the highlands west of the Rift Vally. It left ten other students injured and were admitted at the Moi Teaching and Referral hospital in Eldoret Town.

The Principal of the school was quoted in the local media as having said that this was the first incident of it its kind to be experienced. He said, however, that the tragedy had robbed the school two of its brightest students. The bodies of the victims were taken away to the morgue after their parents had been informed.

Within 30 kilometers away at Soy Primary in the neighboring Kakamega Count , 30 primary school pupils were injured when the lightning struck their classes. The affected pupils were in standard seven and eight. The tragedy occurred during games time and late afternoon downpour at about 5.P.M local time.

The pupils were outside in the field playing, but dashed back to clash rooms for shelter when the rains began with storms. The head teacher Wafula Nyongesa said that many pupils were now keeping out of the school due to fears. They are scared to death and unwilling to enter into their classrooms, something which could adversely interfere with their performance.

Last year ten people were killed when the thunderbolt struck in West Pokot also located in Western Kenya. The regions are prone to lightning attack, mostly during the short rains seasons which begins in August and ends in December.

Many parts of Western Kenya regions do experience thunderstorms every year, with Kisii County leading the pack, followed by Nandi, Busia, Kakamega, Uasin Gishu, SiayaI, MIgori ,Kericho, Trans-Mara Narok and Migori.

About ten years ago, the retired President Daniel Arap Moi had initiated the crash programme for the installation of lightning arrestors in schools buildings and in all other public institutions

Zimbabwe is leading the rest of Africa in lightning death at an annual rate of 280 followed by Zambia at about 186 annually. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia followed with the number being put relatively at below 100 annually.

In some community lightning incidents are always associated with witchcrafts.



From: Abdalah Hamis

This statement gives a review of the performance of the October to December (OND), 2013 short rainfall season, the ongoing seasonal rains over central, western, southwestern highlands, southern region and southern coast, and an outlook for the March to May (MAM), 2014 long rainfall season (Masika). Click here to view/download a copy of the full report


By Agwanda Saye

The government has embarked on a 20 year mitigation strategy to end the floods in Kisumu County.

The permanent secretary for special programs, Andrew Mondoh said the strategic plan will be implemented in three phases running through 20 years.

The first phase will be implemented in the first 18 months where assessment is done on the affected areas and the victims are given some materials. The strategy which is already in place involves giving the victims food stuffs, bedding and mosquito nets.

Mondoh said in the second phase which is to take up to five years the government will construct check dams in the flood-prone areas and in turn use the water for irrigation. The final phase which will take 20 years will include feasibility study on the affected areas to establish the real cause and exact and appropriate measures for controlling floods.

In this phase, Dams will be constructed across the rivers that burst their banks frequently during heavy down pour. Such rivers are Nyando, Auji and Miriu.

Mondoh said this as they assessed the flood situation in Muhoroni, Nyando and Nyakach constituencies in alongside his counterpart, Mark Bor, Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Public Health. The team also included the provincial Security team, the Red Cross Society, World Vision and United Nation Children’s Fund, (UNICEF).

The team distributed 300 bags of rice, 200 bags of beans, 20 gallons of oil, 300 blankets and 180 Mosquito nets in Nyando and Kadibo. Similar amounts will also be distributed to flood victims in Muhoroni Nyakach and Nyatike.

The victims given materials were the adversely affected and were verified by a committee that included Red Cross and the Provincial Administration.

Public Health Ministry PS, Bor said that his ministry will provide nets to the victims as they were prone to water borne diseases.

“We are now providing treatment kits for prevention of water borne diseases,” said Bor.

Red Cross Western Region Assistant Secretary Emmanuel Owako said that the floods are still affecting Kano, Nyakach, Siaya and Budalangi.

Nyanza PC Francis Mutie assured that the government will do everything to ensure that also learning resumes in the affected schools.

Mondoh challenged the area residents to plant trees as a way of conserving the environment since that will help in stopping the floods.



By Agwanda Saye

The East Africa Law Society (EALS) wants the Government to control perennial floods that leave trails of death and misery.

EALS President James Aggrey Mwamu said that it was sad for the Government to watch as citizens drown and homesteads marooned after down pours.

“The right to life that is enshrined in Article 26 of the Constitution must not be taken for granted,” Mwamu said.

Mwamu said that it was disheartening that lives are being lost over floods even after the meteorological department announced the coming of long rains.

“We express concern at the dilatory in which the Ministry of Special Programmes is dealing with the floods issue,” Mwamu said.

The EALS President regretted that the Ministry of Special Programmes made no preparations to evacuate families from flood prone areas.

Mwamu said that the Government had capacity to control the ravaging floods in areas like Kano Plains in Kisumu County.

“Budalangi in Busia County experienced the worst floods in the history of this country but was controlled…why not other areas in the country,” Mwamu said.

Mwamu spoke as raging floods reportedly claimed human lives and displaced several families countrywide.

On Sunday night, raging waters killed four passengers in separate incidents in Kajiado North District.

“Raging floods leave a trail of death and misery especially to rural homesteads that leave from hands to mouth,” Mwamu said.

Recently four people were swept away and killed by raging floods in Taita Taveta and Tana River Counties as heavy rains pounded Coast Province.

The EALS President said that the Constitutional rights of families living in flood prone areas must be upheld.

“We demand urgent action towards fulfilling fundamental rights of families that are perpetually marooned and lose members over raging floods,” Mwamu said.

The EALS urged the Government to improve and act on disaster preparedness especially after early warning signs from the meteorological department.


Kenya: heavy rains wreak havoc in many parts of Kenya and left 10,000 people homeless

Writes Leo Odera Omolo

MORE than 10,000 people have been displaced and 40 killed as heavy rains wreak havoc across the full length and with of the country leaving the trails of deaths.

Property and crops worth millions of shilling have been destroyed, and the government has confirmed that some people were still missing while close to 50 people have been injured in various parts of the country.

In the Nandi Hills region hundred of acres of tea farms have been destroyed by hailstorm. Before the arrival of the long rains, the tea plantations in this particular region had suffered heavy damages inflicted by frost.

By yesterday both small and large scale tea farmers in the Nandi Hills area were still counting their losses, which experts says would runs into million o shillings.

Nandi Hills is one of the regions in Western Kenya where tea is grown in abundance. With close to ten large scale tea plantations and eight green tea leaves processing factories, the region is only second to Kericho and Bomet Counties in tea production.

The chairman of the small scale growers and empowerment project Wilson Tuwei told this writer hat the rain come at a time when farmers are starting to recover from the devastating effect of the frost bite destroyed that destroyed thousands of acres a month ago.

He added that the weather has dealt a major blow to the crop, one of the leading Kenya’s exports. Tea plantations in area like Nandi Hills, Kericho, Bomet and Sotik are threatened.

Heavy rains that re pounding moist parts of the country have caused the river’s water to rise between 2.8 and 3.2 meter raising fear among the residents of the flood prone regions that further swells in the water levels might overwhelm the dikes built by the government as the protective measures.

Four Kenyans have died as the result of lightning striking their homes during the late afternoon heavy downpour, while several rivers have burst their banks and flooded large areas and villages forcing the residents to flee their homes, most of which are submerged in the waters.

The rains have sent many people fleeing their submerged homes in the floods prone areas of Budalangi in Busia,Nyatike, Gwassi in Suba South district, Rangwe, Nyakach, Nyando and Kisumu.

The Western Provincial Commissioner Samuel Kilele on Wednesday held an emergency meeting with humanitarian agencies and other stakeholders in the region to discuss how to mitigate the effect of the possible flooding.

The P.C. disclosed that the Kenyan government through the Ministry of Special Programs has already bought and stocked it at the local stores of the National Cereal an Produce Board {NCPB} for emergency supplies to those who are at risk of being affected the floods.

The Permanent Secretary n the Ministry Andrew Mondo has appealed to Kenyans in floods prone regions and villages to move to the higher ground. He directed has appeal specifically to the residents of Budalangi, Kano Plains, Turkana, the capital city of Nairobi and its environs, Pokot,Baringo, Nyatike, Suba,Wareng,and the coastal Strip.

The flash floods, this time around has affected some areas which hitherto were previously considered to be safe. The areas include Teso North where 20 houses were destroyed and 15 cows swept away.

The flash flood waters have destroyed food crops in Marakwet district in the north Rift and for the second time in less than a week Narok town in the South Rift experienced the worse flood.

The incessant heavy rains have had adverse effect on tourist spots within Narok County. It has washed away many bridges on rural access roads and cut many places by way of damaging roads.


A bridge linking Sondu and Ahero towns on the main Kisii –Kisumu road has been washed away forcing motorist heading to Kisumu from Kisii to divert to Kapsoit junction and then drove toward Awasi- Kisumu, which is consuming a lot of time.


The heavy rains have left trail of deaths as more than 20 Kenyans have so far died due to devastating flood waters

Writes Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City

Deaths caused by flash flood have because the death of close to twenty Kenyans in the last one week and the heavy rains continued pounding many parts of the country.

The rains has left trail of deaths and inflicted serious damages to the residents of the affected regions where fast flowing waters left thousands of people homeless, swept away food granaries, domestic animals and destroyed homesteads.

The Meteorology Department has issued a stern warning to residents of the flood prune areas saying the worse is still to come as the long rains continued pounding various part of the country.

Reports emerging from the various parts of the country, says several area which are usually prone to floods have already been affected and several village submerged under water. Several major rivers in Nyanza have burst their banks causing floods in several villages downstream.

The worse affected areas include Migori district where River Kuja burst its banks spilling its water into several villages in Central Kadem Location in Nyatike district rendering many people homeless.

Suba South district {Gwassi} experienced the worse flood when several homestead were swept away in Central Gwassi location. Nine people have lost their lives. One of the women who was among those rescued unconscious has since succumbed to her death at Magunga Health Center.

The latest and the worse of all the flood related death is an incident in which 53 member of PCEA Church in Mukara near Nairobi who on Sunday morning set for leisure tour to the Hell Gate National game Park near Naivasha town ended tragically lost seven of their colleagues who were swept away by fast flowing flash flood waters.

Most of the victims were members of a church comprising mainly school pupils and children under age of 15. The rains stated at about 2 P.M in the afternoon and members of the leisure tour group took shelters in the caves around the gorge.

The park is located 100 kilometer southwest of the capital City of Nairobi. Six bodies of the flood victims were retrieved by experts, while the body of the seventh was still missing, feared swept far away from the scene of the accident by fast flowing flash flood waters.

The waters came from deep gullies on Mt Longonot and Kedong Hills areas. The group toured the game park, but when the rain started and despite of written warning printed everywhere at the entrance of the “Hell Gate Game Park” advising visitors to be aware of rising floods the church group took shelters in the caves and were caught unaware by the fast flowing waters from he gullies upstream which swept their colleagues downstream and killed seven of them.

In the greater Southern Nyanza, a family of one man Kennedy Onyango of Nyaburu village in Central Gwassi Location near Magunga lost seven of its members when their dwelling home was swept away. The villages are located an area which is surrounded by hills surrounded by deep gullies, but previously considered safe from floods

Rescuers managed to rescue Mr. Onyango’s two wives and his step mother several kilometers downstream, but they were found to be unconscious and rushed to Magunga health Center for treatment.

One body belonging to one of the children who were swept away an presumed dead was retried about six meters deep below in the mud.

The rescue operation mounted by the Red Cross and experts sent by the government’s Ministry of Special Programme from Nairobi were hampered by the heavy rains which have incessantly continued pounding the areas.

The only available earth moving machine deployed in the search for the bodies of the victims in the muddy water got stuck in the mud.

About 3,000 families lost their homes and were taking shelters in schools and churches located upstream. The rising flood waters also swept away chicken, food, stuff and domesticated animals as well as livestock.

He retrieved bodies of the flood victims were taken to St Camillus Mission Hospital at Sori in the nearby Nyatike district for preservation. Most affected and devastated villages were Wiga,Olando and Nyaburu in Gwassi Central Location.,Suba South within Homa-Bay district.

At the same time close to 5,000 people and close to 1500 have south help and shelter from churches an school when Oluch River that separates Rangwe and Karahuonyo constituencies burst its banks and flooded several villages downstream rendering thousands of residents homeless.

Two members of Parliament whose constituents have suffered a great deal and have become the victims of the flood have raised 38 bag o maize, ten bags of rice and six bags of beans for the flood victim, but this is inadequate considering the high numbers of the flood victims who have been left without food, and even their utensils and kitchen aware swept away.

The MPs are John Mbadi {Gwassi} and Martin Otieno Ogindo {Rangwe}. The victim needs more foodstuff, medicines, anti-mosquito nets to prevent them fro malaria attacks, blankets and tents.

In lower Nyakach close to 100 homes have submerged in the water.400 residents of Gem Rae area were last night camping at the nearby schools and churches. Fears and panicking persist that Budalangi constituency in Busia County which is usually prone to flooding is just days away from being flooded.


natural calamities strikes many parts of Kenya following the arrival of the long rains

Reports Leo Odera Omolo

NATURAL calamities and disaster have hit Kenyans so hard in the past one week with reported death by a man trampled by elephant, while two people drown after their fishing boat was hit by a rogue hippo in Lake Victoria.

In the last two weeks, the lightning strikes left three Kenyans dead, and at the same time there were two incidents of big cats devouring domestic animals in Murang’a County and, and in Nyahururu.

The incident in which two fishermen drawn while on fishing expedition in Lake Victoria when heir boats was hit by a rogue hippo took place near Uhanya Beach in Usenge Division, Bondo district within Siaya County occurred on Monday.

Four fishermen had set on a fishing expedition in Lake Victoria when a five tone rogue bull of hippo attacked their boat and sunk it violently. Two of the fishermen managed to swam to safety, but two of their colleagues were unlucky. Up to the time of writing this report the bodies of Fred Ochieng 42 and Dancan Ochjonjo 20 were yet to be retrieved from the water.

The Assistant Chief of the area Manaseh Osur identified the survivors as Bill Omondi and Musa Okaka.

A 75 year old woman was strike dead by thunderbolt in Adanya village in Teso district within Busia County in Western Province.Rose Idanya 75 had gone out in the rain to pick up some of her utensils when the lightning struck.

The Area Assitant Chief Zachary Olekete has cautioned the residents against engaging in risky activities, especially during the down pour as the rainy season started. He further asked head teachers of all the primary schools in his area to ensure that they install lightning arrestors in all classrooms and important buildings within their schools compound.

His particular incident came only a week after two young men who had taken a shelter under a tree were struck dead by lightning near Mwakitau in Taita-Taveta district at the Coast Province.

Another incident in Keiyo district in the North Rift a woman and her daughter dead after lightning hit their home during the late afternoon heavy down pour.

In the same Taita-Taveta district a man was trampled to death by a rogue elephant. The incident took place last Sunday forcing the officials of the Kenya Wildlife Services {KWS} to mount the ground and air operation aimed at driving back to the close to 200 herds of elephants which had invaded the area and were causing havoc with human lives and food crops.. back to the nearby Tsavo West National Game Park where the jumbos are suspected to have come from before invading the villages causing havoc with human live and destroying a lot of food crops in the field.

The elephants had imposed dawn to dusk curfew forcing the children to abandon their studies In the nearby schools.

In Nyahururu a suspected ,female leopard which had strayed in the farming villages is blamed for having killed close to 35 goats and sheep. A farmer at Gichaka village in Olkalou constituency is now counting his loses after the beast had attacked her leopard her curbs attacked and killed her nine sheep on Tuesday morning.

Mrs Gechia Karichu the nine sheep were part of a flock of 23 she had taken to grazing shed near her house. But soon after returning to the house, three of the sheep came back bleating with one of them having been mauled in the leg. But when he went out to check what had happened to the sheep she found the carcasses of the nine sheep strewn allover.

The residents told the newsmen that the same leopard had killed many goats , sheep and dogs in the village in the last two weeks.

The area MP Erustus Mureithi who visited the scene appealed to the government to compensate the farmers who had lost their animals in such attacks by big cat.

The next incident involving the attack by a leopard was in Gikuyu Sub-Location in Murang’a district where a marauding male leopard killed seven sheep on Monday night. The big cat is reported to have strayed in the village from the nearby Mount Kenya Forest which was recently devastated by the wildfire.

The beast is also reported to have already devoured close to 5o goats and sheep during the last three weeks and it is so elusive that the villagers in collaboration with the armed game rangers have hunted it without success.

On Monday night at about 4.A.M a resident Mr Justus Mwan in bed woke up to a rude shock after he found the carcasses of seven sheep killed.

In unrelated story, an official of the KWS in Tsavo East National Game Park has made a startling revelation of people who have been faking snake bites so tat they could compensated. This discovery was made after it was detected that nearly all the companion forms were signed b only one doctor.

The Senior Kenya Wildlife Service Samuel Bukura said some people re known to have cut their legs using razor blades to fake snake bite or the purpose of getting compensated b the government.

The scam was discovered after many people had presented the forms bearing their claims for compensation after faking snake bite incidences.

“Most claims lodged in our offices, are bearing the signature o only one doctor paving he way for suspicion that the forms were fake. This , he aid is a clear indication that the compensation exercise is grossly being abused.

Bukura revealed that the government has set aside and released the colossal amount of Kshs 2.6 million which is to be paid out as compensation to the families of those people who were either killed and injured by wildlife in the coastal district of Taita-Taveta The issuing of payment of cheques and cash has been delayed because the people involved did not provide the officials with the correct information.

The payment has been categorized for those killed will be compensated with Khs 200,000 while those who sustained bodily injuries a result of attack by wildlife would be paid Kshs 50,000.mT in this category include the genuine cases of snake bites, and it is what has made so many people fake the injuries. Some have inflicted injuries n their bodies using razor blade top look like snake bites.


Africa: Disaster risk reduction: Fundamental to saving lives and reducing poverty

from Yona Maro

This briefing has been written in response to the drought in the Horn of Africa, which is facing the worst food crisis of the 21st Century. While severe drought has undoubtedly led to the huge scale of the disaster, this crisis has been caused by people and policies, as much as by weather patterns. An adequate response to the current crisis must not only meet urgent humanitarian needs, but also address these underlying problems. Disaster Risk Reduction has as key role to play in analysing, managing and addressing the causal factors of disaster and their impact on men and women. It is proven to be effective and cost effective. Yet it is systematically underfunded by donors, and not an integral element of humanitarian and development work across the board. To prevent future crises, this has got to change.

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Africa: Investing in drought preparedness

from Yona Maro

This fact sheet presents the disaster risk reduction programmes, with a specific focus on drought, established by the European Commission in the Horn of Africa. These projects seek to build resilience in communities that are particularly vulnerable to drought, so they can cope better when rains fail. The fact sheet includes a case study on Moyale, Northern Kenya.

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from ouko joachim omolo

Colleagues Home & Abroad Regional News


Agenzia Fides reports that the Bishops of Kenya launch an emergency fund to help people affected by drought-“We are all deeply concerned about the crisis caused by drought and suffering of so many Kenyans.

Our concern is for the millions of vulnerable people who risk dying of hunger and for the many communities that have lost their livelihoods “, the Bishops of Kenya say in a statement and launch a national fund-raising for the people affected by drought that has raged in several East-African Countries.

If the most dramatic situation is in Somalia, Kenya also heavily suffers the food crisis, not only because it hosts on its territory hundreds of thousands of Somalis escaping from their Country, but also because the drought has affected several areas of its territory.

The message of the Episcopal Conference of Kenya states that the most vulnerable people are: the shepherds of the north, north-east, north-west and south, and the poorest families living on subsistence farming in the coastal plains and south-eastern regions.

The drought, caused by very little rain in 2010 and, this year has caused, the Bishops recall, “food shortages, sharp rise in food prices, lack of water, migration and conflict, malnutrition, school dropout on behalf of children and loss of livestock”.

The Episcopal Conference of Kenya has decided to launch an emergency fund (Catholic Charity Emergency Fund) and has launched a fund-raising in favor of this initiative. Food collections in parishes, diocesan offices and other structures of the Church have been organized. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 04/08/2011)

The Episcopal Conference of Kenya ‘s move comes three days after Pope Benedict XVI called for an “international mobilization” to help the victims of a severe drought in Eastern Africa, which has been hit by drought and is now threatened by a famine that could endanger the life of more than 11.8 million people.

Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are the countries the most hit by the drought. Speaking from his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, Italy, the pope invited the faithful “to think of the many brothers and sisters who in these days, in the Horn of Africa, are suffering the dramatic consequences of famine, aggravated by war and the absence of solid institutions.”

In Kenya the famine is biting harder when the Kenyan shilling fell to a record low of 92.10 against the dollar on Thursday, weighed down by demand for the US currency from oil importers according to traders.

At 0624 GMT, commercial bank quoted the shilling at 92.00/20 against the dollar, weaker than Wednesday’s close of 91.65/75. “We have seen heavy demand this week. Telecoms were in and we also saw oil guys buying dollars,” Duncan Kinuthia, head of trading at Commercial Bank of Africa was quoted to have said. “Still the shilling is on the back foot. We don’t see any factors supporting it.”

In northern Kenya according to Fatuma Ahmed, some people go as far selling their daughters at a tender age so they can get food. Prolonged drought in northern Kenya has pushed many families, like widow Ahmed and her seven children, towards the outskirts of towns where they are more likely to get food and water, thanks to the generosity of Kenyans who have so far donated over 100 million Kenya shillings.

Dubbed Kenyans for Kenya, it is intended to raise over Sh500 million, in four weeks. The initiative has brought together a number of organizations among them Safaricom Foundation, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Foundation and the country’s leading media houses operating under the umbrella of the Media Owners Association (MOA). The effort will be administered by relief agency Kenya Red Cross Society.

The KCB Group CEO Dr. Martin Oduor – Otieno was quoted to have said that KCB is ready to support initiatives that would help to alleviate famine in the country. “KCB through the KCB Foundation is delighted to be part of this noble initiative bringing together the Kenya Red Cross Society, corporate organizations and the media in support of Kenyans hard hit by famine. In addition, we are also mobilizing our 5,000 staff to make individual contributions,” said Dr Oduor-Otieno.

Also key to the campaign is the use of M-PESA, Safaricom’s money transfer service to receive donations. This will ensure that even the smallest donation (as low as Sh10) is harnessed, as this will go a long way in improving the situation of millions of Kenyans currently staring starvation and death in the eye.

Donations can be sent to the M-PESA PayBill number 111111 at no charge as this has been waived. Donations can also be sent to account number 11 33 33 33 38 at KCB. Kenya Red Cross Society cash tins will also be available in 169 KCB branches countrywide for receiving donations.

The famine crisis in Kenya has already received unprecedented media coverage especially from the international media due to the influx of refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps. The corporate appeal comes at a time when the United Nations (UN) has also called an emergency meeting in Rome to mobilise aid so save starving Kenyans from hunger.

According to Ahmed young girls are being sold for as little as 15,000 Kenyan shillings ($168) “If he’s wealthy, it can go up to 50,000 ($559),” “A mother will take a 14-year-old girl out of school and sell her to a man – even an old man – to get money to give the other children food,” according to a local chief. “Some households have 10 children and feeding those children is really hard.”

Enrolment in his local primary school has dropped to 210 children from 350 since the drought started to bite last year. “Over a hundred have been removed because of hunger,” the chief told Reuters.

According to the United Nations, only one in five girls in North Eastern Province attend school. Aid agency World Vision is unable to trace 400 of the 3,060 children it sponsors in the district. Some have been sent to stay with better-off relatives who can feed them. Some are working as maids in people’s houses or in food kiosks. But others are married off “just to make sure that the rest of the family does not die from lack of food”, said Jacob Alemu, World Vision’s local programme manager.

It is not the first time the Pope expressed its fears regarding the situation in East Africa as on July 17, he spoke about the humanitarian catastrophe. “Countless people are fleeing terrible famine in search of food and assistance,” the pope told the crowd gathered in the courtyard of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.
“May those who suffer not lack our solidarity,” the pope said.

In Somalia, the areas most affected by the drought are under the control of an Islamist militant group, al-Shabaab, which has banned western aid agencies, forcing people to flee to the capital Mogadishu, where the U.N.-backed government is struggling to fight off armed groups. In Somalia, 3.7 million people are in crisis, out of a population of 7.5 million. The UN said 3.2 million need immediate lifesaving assistance.

This is taking place at the same time Kenyan Foreign Affairs Assistant minister Richard Onyonka was today (Thursday) grilled by the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) detectives over the purchase of sugar worth Sh137 million using CDF cash.

Mr Onyonka, who is also the Kitutu Chache MP, is alleged to have used CDF funds to purchase sugar worth Sh137,058,429 from Chemilil Sugar Company and did not remit VAT worth Sh18.5 million to the Kenya Revenue Authority.

Kenya: Bumper crop harvesting in some parts of Luo-Nyanza but “The Ocampo Six Famine” still bites

News Analysis By Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City.

THERE is bumper harvesting of new food grains in some parts of Luo-Nyanza, and the arrival of new maize from the field I expected to reduce the prices f the same to an affordable proportion.

The relief of pressure of acute food shortage in the region is expected to be last only a few weeks, because the crop failure is widespread, most in low-lying locations along the shoreline of Lake Victoria.

The most biting famine which has since been christened “The Ocampo Six” is likely to continue until December. This will depend on how the short rains, which begin in late August and early September, will behave.

“The Ocampo Six” had sent the price of food grain sky rocketing from the previous Kshs 20/ per 2 kg of maize up to Kshs 160/- two kilograms in some regions. The situation is aggravated by the refusal of the neighboring Tanzania to allow its maize to be exported into Kenya.

Apart from banning the import of maize through the normal borders posts, some unscrupulous traders have since resorted to using parts of unguarded Lake Victoria and other “Panya Routes” in the villages, but the quantities which comes via such illicit routes are quite insignificant and cannot help the situation.

Crop failure is wide spread in places like Kano Plains, Nyakach, Karachuonyo, Lambwe Valley, Homa-Bay, Mbita, Gwassi and Nyatike constituencies. On the northern parts the crops failure covered areas like Raried, Alego-Usonga,Ugenya and part of Kisumu Rural constituencies.

In the upper parts of South Nyanza in areas like Kasipul-Kabodo, Rangwe, Rongo, Awendo Uriri ,Migori and Kuria there is bumper harvest. But fear persists that the grain would not last longer due to the scourge of “Ocampo Six” famine, which the locals says is the worst in the 21st century and only compare with two other previous famine “Nyaldiema and Nyngweso” of the 1920s and 1936.

Some older and still surviving Luos still remember other famine like” Ladhiri {1943} and Chung’ni Kimiyi{1961} and Ke Mau Mau of 1953. However, all acknowledged that the “Ocampo Six” will go down as the most biting famine in modern history of the region.

Other region which is reported to have received bumper harvest is Trans-Nzoia and parts of Kuria.

The poor harvest in some parts of Western Kenya is attributed to the supplies of irrelevant maize seedling by prepared by some unscrupulous and unprofessional seed companies, which have sprung up like mushroom in recent years. Also in the business re conmen, know to be using logos and container of the much efficient Kenya Seed Company based in Kitale town in Trans-Nzoia County.

The harvest is nearly 100 per cent better in Ndhiwa district, which of late has become the bastion o food in the greater Southern Nyanza.

Gwassi district which usually known as the bastion of grains in Suba region has witnessed a total crop failure, a making the situation in the two islands of Rusinga and Mfangano even worse.

Another bastion of food production is Uyoma in Rarieda.In some places it rained a lot flogging the crop field, or it rained less and insufficient to support the crop.The situation varied due to the climate change in the region.

Politicians and community leaders in the region have appealed to the peasant farmers to plant roots yielding crops such as cassava and sweet potatoes to avert further deterioration of the famine.

Among them is Nyatike MP Edick Omondi Anyanga and Karachuonyo MP Eng. James Rege. The two legislators have appealed to their constituents to make good use of the short rains by planting cassava and sweet potatoes in places where the two crop could grow and flourish.


Kenyans alarmed as lightning kills 20 people within one week

Writes Leo Odera Omolo

TWENTY Kenya were strike dead by lightening at different locations and districts within last week alone.

Experts maintain that this is the highest figure ever reported in the country’s history of natural calamities ever since 1960/1961.

On Sunday, he residents of Minjeiwa village in Keiyo South district in Elgeyo/ Marakwet County within the North Rift gave a tearful send off a 46 year-old mother and her seven children.

The entire family of eight was wiped out plus their two sheep when the thunderbolt struck their grass thatched house last Saturday evening as they assembled waiting to be served with the evening meals.

All the eight were burnt beyond recognition, while utensils were strewn all over the compound. The only living things were chickens. All the eight victims of catastrophic death were buried in mass grave.

A neighbor who heard the deafening blast rushed to the compound and saw the house on fire. When he peeped his eyes through a window, he saw the bodies were on fire.

Alice Chemurgor, a 46 year old, was living alone with her seven children after separating from her husband a couple of years ago. The husband did not attend the funeral. And in according to the Kalenjin customs people killed in search tragedies are buried immediately after which a cultural cleansing ritual will be performed by the elders from both families of the failed marriage.

Last Friday, three pupils at Toku Primary School, South Kanyajuok in Kamagambo South Location, Rongo district in Migori County were also struck dead by lightning. The thunderbolt injured more than 30 other pupils when it strike heir classroom during the late afternoon down pour. The injured were rushed to Rongo sub-district Hospital and to other medical institution within the nearby districts where most of them were treated for burns and discharged.

The Rongo MP who is also Kenya’s Minister for Public Service, Dalmas Otieno, visited the school lat Saturday and consoled the bereaved families. The Minister and the residents of the area later conducted an impromptu Harambee fund drive and raised money for the assistance of the bereaved and the injured pupils families to secure medical treatment.

Las Sunday afternoon at abut 6.30 pm lightning strikes once again and killed a man. Mzee Obura and his son was taking shelter in a house at Pala, in Pala Division, Ndhiwa district, in the County of Homa-Bay when the tragedy occurred. His body has since been taken to Homa-Bay district hospital morgue. His son received treatment at Ndhiwa sub-district Hospital.

Also killed in the previous week were three pupils of a primary School in Nyamira district within the Gusii County, and one pupil died in Trans-Mara East district when he was strike by the thunderbolt as he walked home from school during dressings.

In Silibwet in Kirinyaga district, a school girl was last Sunday struck dead and he companion seriously hurt while they were walking home after attending church service.

Other incidents involving lightning death have been reported in Trans-Nzoia, Mt.Elgon, Baringo, Bomet, Trans-Mara, Gucha, Kisii, Nyamira, Rongo, Homa-Bay, Bungoma, Kakamega, Molo, Kericho,Bomet, Bureti,Keiyo, Marakwet and other areas which are located on the highlands west of the Rift Valley and areas close to the Equator. It is also common within the locations and villages neighboring Lake Victoria. But Kenya still comes third after Zimbabwe and Zambia. The highest incidents recorded in 1984/85 were 166 people struck dead in Zimbawe. During the same period more than 220 died in Zambia while Kenya lost 186 lives during the same period under review.

Incidents of lightning tragedy usual occurred during the beginning of the short rains I the month of August and September, and also at the beginning of long rains which comes between April and July.


Kenya: Many parts of Luo-Nyanza are experiencing acute food grains shortage as hunger looms large

Writes Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City.

FARMERS and members of the general public in Nyanza Province are in a great panic as the result of the expected crops failure following non-arrival of the long rains in parts of the region.

This year’s rains arrived on time towards the end of March and in early April, but shortly disappeared after the farmers who had already cultivated their fields and ready for planting.

The scarcity of the rains has since sent the prices of food grains skyrocketing to levels unaffordable by local peasants. Two kilograms of un-grinded maize has jumped from 70/- to 120 in many parts of the region. This is considered the highest in a region where the capital of the ordinary people is rather low, forcing some families to go without food for a day or two.

If the rains fail to fall within the next two weeks, then close to 800 people would face a serious hunger and require famine relief food, something which is unusual in the culture of the people of Luo-Nyanza who believes in self-sufficiency in food for domestic consumption.

Experts say that if the rains don’t come within the next two weeks, the region could be plunged into a big famine within the next four months.

The worse hit area in the low laying locations along the shoreline of Lake Victoria which has yet to experience the downfall ever since the first week of April this year.

A survey carried out by this writer revealed that many parts of the region will go without food grains if there will be insufficient t rainfall up to the first week of May. A long rain in Nyanza usually arrives around the first week of April and continues until middle of June or at times extends up to the beginning of July.

The Areas which have experienced inadequacy of rainfalls this season include Lower Nyakach, Eastern, Central and Western Karachuoyo, Kochia, Gem, Central, and West Kanyada in Asego Division of Rangwe, All are within the Homa-Bay County.

Also affected are areas in Rarieda constituency, which are usual get the highest yields of food grains like Uyoma., Asembo. It is the same phenomenon in Kisumu west district, which covered Seme locations.

Other areas facing the looming famine include the two fishing island of Rusinga and Mfangano. The situation is likely to extend to the neighboring constituencies of Gwassi, Nyatike and even the lower part of Uriri.

Passengers travelling from Kisumu to Homa-Bay could easily spot maize crops burnt by humidity situation in the entire Rachuonyo North district stretching from Nyakwere to Oluch-Nyangweso along the Karachuonyo Rangwe borders.

The hunger situation is partly aggravated in that the region had crop failure last season. The government’s recently clamping down a total ban on Omena fishing worsening the situation from bad to worse. The ban will extend for three months from April to July, and the Fisheries Ministry says this will give Omena the smallest fish, but economically important to the rural folk sufficient time for breeding.

The ban has provoked harsh reactions from local politicians who felt it was undesirable, particularly at this time around when the areas affected are facing acute food shortage and want the government to rescind its decision.

The trio issued separate statements arguing that owing to the present pathetic situation of acute food grain shortage in the region the fishing of Omena and its sales should be allowed to continue for the sake of the survival of the residents.

The trio include the Karachuonyo MP Eng.James K Rege, Nyatike MP Edick Omondi Anyanga and the ODM party youth coordinator Hilary Ochieng’Alila.

In the upper areas of the greater Southern Nyanza, it has been raining, but sparsely in areas like Kasipul-Kabondo, Rangwe, Ndhiwa, Rongo, Uriri and Migori district. But the rains are also still inadequate for the new corps to flourish in the field.

Other leaders have appealed to the residents to plant the roots yielding crops such as sweet potatoes, cassavas etc for heir survivals. Clergymen have been conducting vigorous, but session of prayers in churches for the rains to come.


Kenya: SONYSUGAR told to repair the damaged Rapogi-Uriri road


Writes Leo Odera Omolo

The Awendo-based SONYSUGAR Company has been urged to undertake the repair work of feeder and access roads within its cane growing zones, which have been damaged by its heavy machines, tractors and worsened by the current long rains.

Uriri politician, who is also a Nairobi businessman, Mr. John Bob Awiti Otange last week wrote an open letter to the management of the government-owned white sugar manufacturing firm, and pointed out that an 8 kilometer section of Rapogi-Uriri road, which is linking the interior parts of the district to the main-Kisii-Awendo Migori highway is in a pathetic state. It has become impassable, particularly during the current heavy rains, and need urgent gravelling.

Mr Awiti-Otange pointed out that the on going heavy rains, which is pounding the Lake region incessantly, has damaged a number of roads in the district, including the Rapogi-Oria and Oyani Achuth, as well as Rapogi-Awendo. The situation has been worsened by the recent harvesting of cane in farms adjacent to Rapogi market, where the Awendo based sugar miller used heavy machinery, while winching its tractors stuck in the mud.

The state of these roads has now made it impossible for motorists, including residents, who works in towns in other parts of Kenya, as well as those who live in Nairobi, to access their rural homes, forcing many families to walk on foot for long distances before they can access their rural homes. Some motorists are forced to abandon their vehicles at Awendo town or in Uriri shopping centre and then trek between eight and 15 kilometers by foot, in order to be able to reach their homes.

The businessman-cum-politician reminded the SONYSUGAR management that Rapogi-Uriri road has for many years been an all weather road until its tractors used it a couple of weeks ago while ferrying cane from the field to the factory. This was done during the current heavy downpour and has devastated nearly all section of Uriri-Rapogi-Oria.

Rapogi-Oria is so important economically as it links an area where both tobacco and sugarcane are grown in abundance and it is now not possible for the farmers to have their products and crops transported to the market. The pathetic state of road hurts the local farming communities. It has hit them below the belt as they are now stranded with their produce at home.

Mr. Awiti-Otange also urged the Provincial administration and police authorities to curb the upsurging waves of crime rate around Rapogi trading center and its environs, saying the local communities are now living in fear, following the recent spate of cowardly attacks and violent robberies against traders and individual within the vicinity of Rapogi. The government, he added, should use its chiefs and their assistant in combating and stamping out thuggery in the area.

Apart from Rapogi Oria road, which is linking Uriri and Ndhiwa district, the Rapogi Awendo road is a busy road for the economy of the region, and the SONYSUGAR company should undertake its repair, together with the Ministry of Works, so that people returning home for Easter Holidays can access their rural homes.

He suggested that the repair work should start at field 3A, Moses Awiti farm, near the junction of Rapogi Awendo and Rapogi Uriri road, and run-over Nyarago bridge, towards Ramuom School and Kaminolewe, covering Nyamilu shopping Centre, to the Uriri D.C’s office. This particular section needs urgent attention.

Mr Bob-Awiti-Otange also urged those charged with the responsibility of handling CDF within Uriri constituency to ensure that the damaged small bridges linking the villages are repaired immediately, as this would make it much easier for the farmers to transport their wares to the marketplaces.



Tobacco was first introduced in Uriri Constituency in early 70s, and at that time, Uriri constituency (the former Kanyamkago location) was a virgin land with population of averagely 100,000 people.

The constituency was prone to heavy rainfall with thunderstorms in the afternoon. The constituency was receiving rains virtually four to five times every week. It had beautiful and spectacular scenery, with canopies along the riverbanks, and on the slopes as well as on top of several hills in the constituency, which influenced the convectional rainfall around the Lake basin region.

Some of the hills which potentially influenced the weather pattern in the constituency include, Sigawa and Got Jope hills (Oyani Masai) on the eastern side boardering Transmara District, God Olima on South East , God Rombee in Kanyamkago, God Amoso and Akonjo in Kanyamkago, and God Ting’na, God Sibuoche, and God jaoko in West Kanyamkago.

Frequent heavy thunderstorms, with hailstones experienced in the afternoons were frequent, influenced by overheating in Lake Victoria, which is hardly twenty (20) Kilometres away.

The constituency is highly cosmopolitan, perhaps the highest in Kenya, with different clans and tribes. Among many others are Kanyamkago, Luhyas, Gem, Kakremba, Kamreri, Kamgungho, Karachuanyo, ALego, Kisii, Kuria, Masai etc.

The modest rainfall during summer period enhanced alot of soil nutrients, followed with continuous heavy rains during winter period, and as a result, it created naturally fertile Agricultural land which could could grow any kind of cash crop.

Three decades ago, residents of Uriri constituency were hardly using fertilizers to motivate crop development in their farms. Nevertheless the produce from their farms were overwhelming because of natural fertility.

With the advent of BAT in early 70s, in the constituency, resident of Uriri constituency got attracted to the economic benefit derived from the proceeds of sale on smoked tobacco product. Since the process of developing tobacco upto the final stage, ready for sale, involves alot of smoking the matured product.

This necessitated the need to do deforestation, in order to obtain logs for use as firewood for smoking the harvested product. This, as a result, interfered with naturaly green environment. Little did the locals know that in the process of looking for economic benefit, they were doing harm than good to their natural green environment.

Currently, canopies along the river banks, on the slopes and on top of hills, which were highly responsive for convention rainfall, have since disappeared, and what is left are dry shrubs which have little influence on weather pattern.

The residents Uriri, Rongo, Nyatike, Kuria and Transmara, feel that BAT and SUPER MATCH should be held responsible for climate degradation on the aforesaid districts.

They are appealing to the two companies to allocate sufficient funds to finance afforestation on the above Districts in order to bring back the ever green environment that was there before.

Farmers in the above districts are also complaining about delays in settlement of the proceeds of the delivered product to the two companies. They want the companies to ensure that farmers are paid promptly in order to assist them meet their basic needs.


Uganda: Fresh landslides hit Kisoro and Kabale districts destroying houses and sweeping crops in the field


Writes Leo Odera Omolo.

KISORO district suffered two more landslide incidents in the last ten days, resulting in 15 houses being destroyed and flattened.

According to the area District Commissioner, Gideon Ahwhwo, no one was reported killed when the latest eruption occurred at Nyabisenya and Matora sub-counties, which were hit on Thursday night.

The residents of the two villages, however, reported that all their crops in the field were destroyed and covered by a mixture of red soil and rocks.

Landslides also hit Rubaya Butanda sub-counties, where some 15 homesteads were flattened. The Rubaya-Katuna road was also blocked by rocks, thereby cutting it off for motorists.

The Minister for Water and Environment, Jenipher Namuyangu said floods were likely to occur in Central, Eastern and Western Uganda. She advised the communities living in low lying and flood prone areas to shift to the higher grounds.

“Those responsible for relief are also advised to prepare for possible flooding in the high risk regions”, the Minister said during the government briefings at the Media Centre in Kampala on Thursday. She was flanked by weather experts from the meteorological department.

She said the scientists have predicted that there will be strong dust winds, hailstorms and lightening as the El-Nino rains continue to hammer the country.

The Minister also expressed the fear that water born diseases, like cholera and typhoid, may also occur and she appealed to the Health Ministry officials to equip hospitals and health centers with drugs. “Appropriate action should be taken to avoid more loss of lives and destruction of infrastructures”, she added.

But despite the gloomy outlook, she said, the El Nino rains bring some benefits to the farming communities as increased agricultural output, as the soil mixture will be higher.

“Regions that are expecting normal and above the normal rainfall should use this chance to improve agricultural activities. The farmer should take the advantage and make good use of the rainy season by planting enough food crops that will also cater for the usually drought stricken areas. The rains will also enhance the potential for hydro-electric power generations due the enhance water volume”, said the Minister.

At the same time, hope of finding more survivors of the massive landslide, which buried three villages in Buduba dimmed yesterday, five days after the incident occurred on Monday, and after rescuers who continued to dig up the earth in search of survivors said it would be hard to find anyone alive five days after disaster struck.

The army, the Uganda Red Cross personnel, residents and volunteers continued digging up the earth with bare hands and using rudimentary tools like hoes and spades, while relatives who clung into some hope of finding their loved ones alive sunk into further agony.

Uganda Peoples Defense Force {UPDF}has deployed more than 250 soldiers from the engineering department, who are helping in the search for survivors and bodies, and also rendering the local communities with help, so that they can return to the normal life.

“ I really don’t think there is any slight hope of finding more survivors because of the mixture of mud soil and the rocks. The hand tools the rescuers are using are inadequate”, Michael Nateka, the general Secretary of the Uganda Red Cross was quoted as saying.

Since Monday, only 94 bodies have been found, says local village leaders. The UPDF operations is led by Brigadier Patrick Kankiriho, the Commander of the 3rd Division.

Brig Kankiriho said, “ Our role is to evacuate casualties, rescue the trapped and recover the bodies”. He said this as his men attacked the soil with hand hoes and spades. There was evident lack of heavy earth moving machineries in the place, according to an eye witnesses.

The Army chief said it was impossible to take the heavy earth moving equipment to the affected areas, given the poor land terrain.

Curious onlookers, relatives and sympathizers walked from distance villages to witness one of the worst natural calamities to ever occur in Uganda, and walked back to their home under heavy downpour.

Survivors of the Monday evening horrifying landslide eruption, which took place in the three villages located on the slopes of Mt Elgon, in Bugisu, in which hundreds of people perished, have given the shocking details of the account of what happened on that fateful night.

They said it had been raining the whole day, but the busy villagers went about their business as usual without any fuss.Then exactly at 8PM, a loud bang was heard as rolling rocks hit the villages.

“We heard a loud bang up the mountain ranges. The nearby trading center was still busy with people who had taken shelter along the shops from rains. It caught many people unawares of the unfolding event. Then the rocks rolled down at high speed and hit the shopping center like lightening. Many people fled to scamper for safety, but it was too late.

It was the same story in the nearby Namatsi village, which bore the brunt of the raging weather.

What the survivors’ narrated looked like miracle escape and the futile attempt to come into terms with their predicament.

Landslide with less causalities occurred in the region in 1997.

Mr Isaac Watyekere, a 20 year old man who lost his father, Efusa Nasibi 49, mother Rosemary Nanduki 47, four brothers and six sisters, said he received the sad news while learning in class room at Bushika Senior Secondary, via a mobile phone call from a relative, who advised him to take a Boda Boda motorbike taxi and rush home.

But on the way, a friend told him exactly what happened. He could not believe his eyes. His entire family had been wiped out and the home turned upside down, leaving a trail of red soil and mud mixture with heavy rocks. He said he was unable to recognize and pin-point the exact position of his parents homestead. But he was lucky, because by the time he arrived, he was shown the bodies of his mother and one brother.

Another village visited by this disaster was Kibehwo. There, the residents said they heard an unusual sound, but only started fleeing after some rocks flew past their homes. At first, there were some loud cries by the victims, but the cries faded too fast and within minutes there were no more sounds of anybody around.

Everything had been buried underneath of rock’s and mud, and the survivors tried to dig out their kin in vain”, said Damascus Wanyenga, 27, who said that his entire family of eight people, two women, three sisters and two young men, were gone, and none of the bodies had been retrieved from the mud soil, which is as heavy as 20 feet high.

Michael Musema, 19, said his parent’s farm was flooded, forcing them to dig out channels and trenches so that water could flow downstream. After completing the drainage work, it was too cold, and he and his brothers and tired father went home. They feel like warming themselves up with cups of tea. The father rushed to the nearby shopping centre to buy a kilo of sugar. And that was the last time he saw his father alive. He perished together with dozens of other people who had taken shelter in the shops, as well as all the shop keepers. What was left is only red soil and heavy rocks

Many survivors had a lot to tell.