By Suleiman Hassan
Water, water, water everywhere and no glass to drink days later. Welcome to Modogashe, home to Togweyne.
Following the recent heavy rains that pounded parts of North Eastern and Eastern regions, Lagdera’s seasonal river popularly known as Togweyne in Modogashe is overflowing with water causing a lot of inconveniences to area residents.
Modogashe is the border point of Garissa and Isiolo counties and is represented in Parliament by both Lagdera and Isiolo south constituencies. One would therefore expect the town to be more developed than it is now because of its strategic location.
Residents depend largely on Togweine as their only source of water. During the dry season, they dig shallow wells in the dry river bed to get water for domestic use and come the rainy season, all the shallow wells are swept aside by the mighty Togweine’s water which normally overflows causing death and destruction.
When the dry season sets in again, shallow wells are dug everywhere only to be destroyed by the raging seasonal river again. Each year this cycle is repeated.
Residents use their backs, hand and donkey carts or wheel barrows to ferry water to their homesteads which are hundreds of meters away from the seasonal river. The town is synonymous with water vendors and a 20 litre jerry normally goes for Kes 10 during the rainy season and up to Kes 50 in dry seasons.
During dry spells, apart from the shallow wells, the seasonal river is used as a meeting point by both the young and old due to its cool breeze and sandy service. Not to mention the hundreds who take refuge from the scorching sun during the day under the big acacia trees that don the river. “You can even sleep here, you don’t need a mattress” says Nassir, a Modogashe resident.
The most painful part of the story is the fact that whenever it rained, water from the seasonal river go down the drain as there were no dams to retain them.
During the rainy season the town is divided in to two by the mighty waters that overflow and if it rains while you are in one side of the town and you live in the other, you’ll have to spend away from your family for that night. Residents have developed their own ways of coping with this though. At least every one has a family member or a close relative or a friend on either side.
Travelers also get stranded and are forced to either wait until the water subside or make a U-turn and take the next available route which in most cases is hundreds of kilometers away from Modogashe. “At one time we had to go back to Habaswein and take the route to Shanta Abaq. You have only two options. Stay in Modogashe for a day or two waiting for the water to subside or go back and take another route” confirms a driver with Sabrin bus service who declined to be named.
The county government of Garissa in whose area of jurisdiction the seasonal river is located should liaise with their counterparts of Isiolo and donor agencies and put this nightmare behind the people of Modogashe once and for all by constructing a high rise bridge to allow free movement of people and vehicles during rainy seasons. Dams should also be built retain and harvest rain water for use during dry spells.
Over to you Hon. Nathif and Company!
The writer is the editor, Nepjournal.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org