- Over 18 schools have been affected by floods in Lake Baringo.
- About 30,000 residents have been displaced from their homes
- Earthquakes around the lake might be a sign of faulting activities
- Three lakes have the potential of merging into one
- Thousands of citizens need humanitarian help
As you sleep in a warm bed tonight, some people in Baringo will be sleeping outside in the cold. While some students go back to class when the schools reopen, thousands of learners in Baringo may not report back. In this article, I will tell you why children in Baringo may not have a place to learn or live when education resumes in January. Here we go!
Lake Baringo has been swelling tremendously since 2003. While the country has been experiencing intermittent rainfall over the years, the lake has not gone back to its past position. In fact, the lake continues to break its banks after every rainy season.
In 2014, over 5000 people were displaced due to flooding in Lake Baringo and Perkerra River. During that year, the rains caused flooding twice – following the long rains in March and during the Elnino rains in October. At the time, the Ilchamus community of Baringo South were most affected.
This year, the lake has burst its banks beyond imaginable levels, affecting other communities in Baringo North and Baringo South. Unlike in the past when the lake mostly affected Baringo South, it has now flooded the entire region, including Kampi ya Samaki town, Loruk, Salabani, and Kokwa island among others.
The rains have been increasing in the region since March. Accordingly, rivers feeding the lake have channeled millions of liters of water each month.
As the lake surges, the waters have outpoured to neighboring villages, causing many schools, hospitals and homes to be submerged. Kampi ya Samaki dispensary is already floating in water. Kampi ya Samaki and Salabani secondary schools, as well as Loruk primary school have also been affected. Famous hotels hosting tourists such as Soi Safari Lodge, Lake Breeze, Desert Rose Camp and Block Hotel have also gone under water.
The raging waters have also swallowed homes, roads, and farms. Many residents have lost their homes and are now in need of humanitarian help. Some lack food, clothing, drugs, and household goods. Some residents now swim or use boats to access their submerged homes and facilities.
Even as the country plans to reopen schools in January, Baringo residents affected by the floods are wondering where their kids will go. If the floods continue until then, pupils of the affected schools will either find new schools or continue staying at home.
Baringo governor Mr. Stanley Kiptis said that the expansion of the lake is a rare phenomenon. He added, “The situation is aggravated by the heavy rain which continues to pound the county since April.” However, the lake has been expanding over the years regardless of the size of rainfall. When it rains, the lake surges and never gets back to its original position.
Elders of the area argue that the lake was once larger than it is at the moment. They say that the area where Kampi ya Samaki town lies was once deep inside the lake. Over many decades, or even centuries, the waters subsided significantly. People continued to inhabit the areas that were formally covered by the water.
This phenomenon raises the theory of “history repeats itself.” Perhaps the water is going back to its ancient level. If that happens, the entire region from Kiserian to Loruk will be flooded. Hundreds of thousands of people will be displaced, and the tourist town of Kampi ya Samaki will be a story of the past. The lake has already expanded by 7 kilometers, and it is ruthlessly ballooning further.
Lake Baringo is formed within rift valley fault lines, which is also connected to Lake Bogoria and Lake 94. If the expansion continues along the fault line, the three lakes may eventually merge. In fact, a water drilling project near Lake Baringo in 2003 led to a hot spring that splashed hot water several meters above the ground. Lake Bogoria already has hot water and hot springs where tourists often boil eggs and corns. This shows that the water in Lakes Baringo and Bogoria have a common underground source, which could eventually cause the two lakes to contaminate each other.
Between the said lakes, there is a vast land inhabited by humans and animals. Many developments lie within the potential areas of faulting. Huge farmlands along Perkerra River have already experienced massive floods.
To support the theory of faulting, there was recently a minor earthquake that was experienced in the area for several days. It should be noted that Lake Baringo was formed through faulting, being part of the Great Rift Valley. Earthquakes are usually caused when an underground rock suddenly breaks along a fault. When this occurs, pressure is exerted on the earth’s crust, causing seismic waves that eventually cause the ground to shake or break. When it shakes, it becomes an earthquake. If the ground breaks, it forms a lake or rivers.
Many people are now wondering whether there is a rock beneath the earth that is breaking along a fault line beyond the lake. If that is the case, then it means that Baringo residents are possibly staring at a looming disaster.
The situation is worsened by an overgrowth of Prosopis Juliflora (Mathenge) weed, which holds the soil together, making it to retain more water.
Ilchamus ward MCA said that the phenomenon is natural, but the outcomes are detrimental to humans. “We cannot blame anybody for the situation. It all happened naturally. What we just need is humanitarian assistance,” Ole Parsalach said.
While the residents stare at a real calamity, nature continues to ravage. The residents have been asked to move to higher grounds, but where? This area has been home to the residents for many years. Starting another home is unthinkable at the moment. However, the possible cataclysm that may occur as a result of faulting and expansion of the lake may be more than the sacrifice of moving now.
There is a serious humanitarian problem here. Trouble has been encountered, and it may worsen with time. Reading from the statement of the area governor, the county government seems to have given up. “As a county we cannot manage to contain the enormous situation alone. We definitely need financial and technical support from partners,” Governor Kiptis said.
Will there be a humanly possible solution, or we will only have to beg for mercy from Mother Nature?