Place where not even the dead were spared by floods

Thursday, May 9th, 2024 09:00 | By
Lucy Nyokabi points to the flooded graveyard where her grandmother Josephine Njoki was buried the week before in Mwea village, Gatundu North constituency.     PHOTO/Mathew Ndung’u
Lucy Nyokabi points to the flooded graveyard where her grandmother Josephine Njoki was buried the week before in Mwea village, Gatundu North constituency.     PHOTO/Mathew Ndung’u

As torrential rains continue to cause death and destruction across Kenya, even the dead have not been spared by the devastation that the weatherman says could stretch to the end of May.

In Mwea village in Gatundu North constituency, Kiambu County, dozens of graves are covered by water, with locals fearing they could end up seeing recently buried bodies floating in it.

While residents had hoped to provide their late relatives a peaceful resting place, the flooding continues to cause them immense emotional anguish after they saw tombs become submerged in floodwaters.

The most affected sites are hillsides and swampy areas, where buried bodies are at greater risk of being exhumed by the raging waters.


One of the locals buried recently at one of the affected sites was Josephine Njoki, who was 92 and whose grave has been destroyed by floods.

The family burial site, with four graves, is covered by water and has begun emitting a stench that is making the area unpleasant to live in, said her granddaughter Lucy Nyokabi. “The situation here is awful. The graves of our loved ones have been covered by floodwaters and as a result, the site has been producing a bad odour. We fear that the bodies could be exhumed if the heavy rains persist,” regretted Nyokabi.

In the same village, at least 10 families were displaced by floods after their houses were submerged, forcing them to flee and seek alternative shelter in safer areas.

 Agnes Waithera and her family said the floods had left a trail of destruction on their farm. Some of their possessions were damaged, as were their crops, and they now expect little or no harvest. 

 The family’s cows, goats and chickens were not spared either, Waithera said, noting that they had to take the livestock to their neighbour’s homestead for safety.

 “The rains have not spared anything, including our pit latrine, which is now filled with water. As a result, we fear that cholera will break out here unless the rains subside. Our houses have also been weakened and could collapse unless something is done,” she said.

 Residents blamed lack of proper drainage systems and unclogged waterways for the flooding, saying that their cries to be protected had not been heard.  They expressed fears that waterborne diseases could break out, noting that the water is stagnant.

More than eight graves had been submerged by the waters, locals said. “The recent one belongs to a granny who was interred last week amid the heavy rains” said resident John Kamau.

 “We had a hard time removing water from the gravesite and actually had to bring soil from somewhere else to fill in the grave. The situation is dire.”

Locals to the rescue

 A house belonging to Jacinta Kamote, a widow and mother of nine, collapsed. She spent one night in the cold with seven of her children who live with her.

 Residents and a local church responded to the family’s plight by mobilising resources to build a new house for them.

 Flooding has been a perennial problem in the village, noted resident and local leader Ranges Wamunyu. During heavy rains, he said, flooding displace locals and leave a trail of destruction.

 He proposed that the only solution to the problem is digging a channel to drain water from the village, noting that the village has no drainage system.

 Residents urged their leaders - including Mang’u ward MCA Mwangi Wamibira, MP Elijah Njoroge and Governor Kimani Wamatangi - to hear their cries and address their plight.

 “The county government has enough resources, including machinery, to set up a proper drainage system or dig a channel to drain water from this village. We plead for our leaders’ intervention,” Wamunyu said.

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