Residents of Kaugagi ward in Kadenge location in Alego Usonga Sub County within Siaya have voiced their concerns regarding the rate at which the water level in Lake Kanyaboli continues to drop.
Lake Kanyaboli which is the second largest oxbow lake in Africa and also the foundation bedrock for fishing and irrigation within Alego Usonga has been adversely affected by the immense climatic changes currently affecting the whole country.
Reduced water flows and levels have led to water shortages within the area as residents find it very difficult to get water from the lake because their water points are dry, forcing them to pay boat owners to help them draw water deep inside the lake.
This has also affected the production of food around the area, as the residents who are mostly subsistence farmers and fisherfolk complain that they are finding it very rough to feed their families.
They also noted that this predicament has also affected the entire food chain, limiting the nutrition needed for animals, as livestock are unable to reach water and grass around the lake which before used to adequately feed a great population of livestock from areas around the Lake.
Livestock trader, Kennedy Omondi said that these menaces have brought him a lot of setbacks in his business because it has affected the prices of cattle, which normally saw him make good earnings of up to Sh. 40,000 per animal but now he incurs losses from selling poorly fed cattle and this has now forced him to abandon the job until the onset of rains.
Led by beach chairman, Abubakar Omari, from Kadenge Beach, the residents are worried about the future of fishing in the lake due to the reduction in the water level which has reduced the available habitats for fish, affecting the fishing industry.
Omari noted that the lake could produce about 1.5 tons of fish weekly that could feed the whole of Alego Usonga, a contrast to the current yields due to the status of the lake which nowadays produces only a fraction of its regular yields.
This has affected the economic outlook of the families that used to depend on the lake for commercial fishing. Omar said that according to their records, this drop in water levels has affected over 250 families that depended on the lake.
“We are Luos, widely known for fishing and eating fish, which is also part of our culture, so it doesn’t sound good that we can no longer eat fish coming from this lake due to drought,” said Omar at a gathering at the Chief’s office in Kaugagi.
They also blamed the Webuye Sugar Company for polluting the lake through river Yala, which connects them with Kitale where the sugar company is located. They pointed out that the company disposes its chemicals into river Yala which in turn dumps them into Lake Kanyaboli since River Yala is one of the rivers that drain their waters into the lake.
Rivers Yala and Nzoia which are the inlets for this lake are also drying up, in turn affecting Lake Kanyaboli due to insufficient water flow.
They also urged the government through the fisheries department to crack down on illegal fishing which has led to a fish deficit. They said that fishermen from other counties have introduced illegal nets that catch undersized and premature fish.
“I’m humbly calling on the government to supply this lake with fingerlings to boost fish stock,” said Benjamin Okumu, a fisherman.