Turkana floods: Charles loses the family home

Gone in 60 seconds

Enock Chinyenze
Charles Lokaruka
23 December 2019

Married with 12 children, Charles Lokaruka was thriving in Loturerei village not knowing he had built his estate on land fraught with danger. Situated near a dry riverbed in a semi-arid climate, it made perfect sense to be near the most likely water source. It’s practically impossible to find water anywhere farther from the dry river.

Recent heavy rains, worse than any in memory in the area, flooded the riverbed and then burst its banks. “The water flooded our land and rose higher than the windows of our house, destroying everything,” Charles recalls. “My children were lucky to escape from the hut they were sleeping in. It collapsed and crushed the bed.”

Charles’ electronics shop, on the same land, was swept away along with the solar panels and cellphones he was recharging as a service. All the merchandise he was selling are also gone. “The County government came and marked the remnants of my house with an ‘X’ for destruction,” he says. “They say this area is too close to the river and we cannot build here anymore.”

Outside the house, Charles relates his family’s experience during the floods

Asked if he was confident future floods wouldn’t reach where he had begun to rebuild he responded: “The problem is the land beyond this point does not belong to me and I would be encroaching someone else’s land. So I’ve gone as far as I can to the edge of my property but I am not sure.”

Since the floods, Charles’ future has become uncertain. The few goats he had drowned in the flood waters. UNICEF and partners have provided supplies including soap, mats, blankets, kitchen utensils and water purifiers to the family. Their wrecked toilet underscores the importance of hygiene products, as these communities are now at risk of disease outbreak from contaminated water and a lack of latrines.

KRCS distributes relief
UNICEF’s partner, Kenya Red Cross, distributes relief items to flood victims in Lodwar

By Enock Chinyenze, UNICEF Kenya