Roundup: Kenyans feel pinch of climate change as lake water level hits decades' high

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NAIROBI, May 9 (Xinhua) -- Water levels in Kenya's rivers and lakes have surged to the highest level in about five decades due to heavy rains in what is attributed to climate change.

The east African nation has experienced heavy rains in the last two seasons, October to December 2019 and this year's March to May, which is still ongoing.

During the two seasons, meteorological department director Stella Aura notes most regions have been receiving up to 100 mm of rainfall in a day.

The rains have been the heaviest in western, Rift Valley, central and coastal parts of Kenya.

The worst affected, however, are western and Rift Valley, where at least 194 people have been killed and over 100,000 displaced, according to the Devolution ministry.

The waters of the rivers that flow in the two parts of country have surged to unprecedented levels, equally pushing water in Lake Victoria to a new high.

The result is that most residents living in areas neighboring the rivers and the lake have been displaced and islands overrun by raging waters.

For most of the residents, the phenomenon is happening for the first time in their lifetimes.

"I have never seen something like this in my 48 years' life," Collins Mukadi, a resident of Budalang'i in Busia County, western Kenya, said on Saturday.

"I have lived all my life here and this is the first time the lake has broken its banks and the water invaded our villages. The lake is furious, and it is angry," he added.

He recounted that the lake's water in the region has expanded both vertically and horizontally.

"The waters have overflowed from the banks by about 30 meters into our homes displacing many people. Over the years, the water has been receding but this time around the opposite has happened," he said.

As some of the residents grapple with flooding due to the lake, others have been displaced by water from River Nzoia, which drains into the freshwater body.

A similar plight is being experienced by residents in other parts of western Kenya who border the lake.

This include Migori, Homa Bay, Siaya and Kisumu. In the areas, residents had encroached the banks of the lakes knowing that it would forever recede, but climate change effects have overturned the norm.

"If you visit Dunga beach currently, you will not know that this is the place that teems with human activity because the whole area is submerged," said Felix Onyango, a resident of Kisumu, Kenya's lakeside port town.

The situation has been worsened by the fact that Uganda and Tanzania, which share Lake Victoria with Kenya, are also experiencing heavy rains.

Chief executive of Lake Victoria Basin Commission, an institution of the East African Community, Ally-Said Matano notes that in all the three countries, the lake's waters have risen to an average of 13 meters due to abnormally heavy rains. Enditem

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