STATEMENT ON THE IMPENDING SPILL-OVER OF TURKWEL DAM AND RISING LEVELS OF LAKE TURKANA

Turkwel Dam is expected to fill and spill for the first time. It has never filled up to its full supply level at 1150 meters above the sea level, since its construction from 1986 to 1991.

It has a capacity of 1.6 billion m3 covering an area of 6500 hectares and Kenya’s highest dam at 150 meters. It produces 106 MW of electricity.

The ongoing rains in Mt. Elgon and Cherangani Hills Catchments has made its water levels to go beyond the highest water level ever reached from the 1139.24 meters to 1145.09 meters above the sea level as at Thursday 20th August, 2020.

The dam spillage is designed to occur at the water level above 1150 meters above sea level.

Since the onset of rains in October 2019 to date, most of the catchments in the country, have been receiving above normal rainfall.

In this regard, I direct the Department of Administration and Disaster Management to continue providing alerts and sensitizing downstream communities along the Turkwel basin in Lobokat, Kaputir, Katilu, Lobei/Kotaruk, Turkwel, township, Kanamkemer, Kerio and Kangatotha wards to move to higher grounds should this trend worsens.

The County Government of Turkana, National Government and Development Partners are at advanced stage to establish a workable contingency plan with objective of protecting human life, property, environment and alleviating human suffering in the event of spillage.

I implore upon Water Resources Authority (WRA), Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA} and KenGen to take lead in providing adequate data and trend analysis in aiding in decision making.

Once the dam spills the following will likely occur:

1. Displacement of more than 300,000 downstream residents;
2. Damage to  irrigation schemes and infrastructure,
3. Submergence of Lodwar town
4. Loss of lives & livelihoods, property, and destruction of environment.
5. Disable economy in Lodwar town and other trading centers along the Turkwel river
6. Increase in water borne diseases.

I therefore take this earliest opportunity to direct residents living along the River Turkwel basin to move to higher grounds and adhere to relevant alerts that will be given from time to time through various media channels and community barazas to avoid further destruction of lives, property and spread of water borne diseases.

I also caution people residing along the shores of Lake Turkana to move offshore to avoid loss of lives and property because of recent water in the lake has surged to unprecedented levels from 500m to 800m claiming the once dry beaches, hotels, homes, government offices and displacement of more than 1,000 households. This exacerbates the situation as people are being exposed to crocodiles and Hippos attack.

It is evident that people have lost jobs as fishing activities have been interrupted , some hotels have been submerged thus the fishing folk as well as residents have lost businesses. The effect has already been felt in Turkana North and Turkana Central Sub-Counties.

I want to assure residents of Turkana that my governmentwith that of National Government will do everything within our means to protect lives and property of the communities living along the Turkwel basin and Lake Turkana.

H.E Josphat Nanok E.G.H

Governor-Turkana County