Kenya: Imminent Dam Spillage - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF Operation MDRKE046

Situation Report
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A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Turkwel Dam is an arch dam located along the Turkwel river gorge, about 76 Km North of Kapenguria town in West Pokot county. The dam was designed to serve several purposes including hydroelectric power production, irrigation, tourism and fishing. It was constructed between 1986 and 1991 (35 years ago). In addition to being the third largest dam in Kenya, it also supports the third largest hydroelectric power plant in the country, having an installed electric capacity of 106 megawatts. The dam, Kenya's tallest, has a height of 153 meters (502 ft.), crest length of 150M, dam volume of 1,644.95 Million cubic meters and retains a water volume of 1,641 million cubic meters. Turkwel dam outflows are also a major contributor to Lake Turkana waters.

Historically, the dam has never filled to its full capacity since completion in 1991. Over the past 2 months, the water levels in the dam have risen to critical levels following consecutive seasons of heavy rainfall in the dam catchment areas in Mt. Elgon and West Pokot counties. As of 22nd October 2020 at 6pm, water levels in the dam had risen to 1,148.25 meters against a maximum height of 1,150 meters, leaving only 1.75 meters to spillage.

Since the beginning of October 2020, inflows into the dam averaged 56.69m3 /s compared to long term average of 17M3 /s for the month of October in previous years. This represents a 325% increase to its long-term average according to Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen). This coupled with a forecast of normal to above normal rainfall from the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) for October-November-December 2020 (OND 2020) season, indicates a possibility of sustained large volumes of water inflows into the dam. With current volumes of inflows, it is projected that the dam will reach its maximum levels towards end of October and early November 2020, potentially resulting in the displacement of over 60,000 households (families) living along the River Turkwel belt. Additionally, the river sources are currently reporting heavy rainfalls since the past weekend making the spillage more likely at an earlier date than early November.

Areas likely to be affected include.

  • Turkana County: Kaputir, Katilu, Turkwel, Kalemngorok, Nakwamoru, Kapelibok, Nawoyapua, Kalemunyang, Lodwar town and Kalokol.

  • West Pokot County: Riting, Emong, Reres, Chepokachem, Kudungu'le and Lodomong'itil, Itan, Sirwach, Morkoryo, Kang'ulitian and Sukut Villages.

There are also other villages around Lake Turkana that will be affected secondarily due to the overflows and subsequent increase of the lake. These villages include those in Marsabit county (Loiyangalani) and others within Turkana County.

Based on above information, KRCS is requesting IFRC support through the DREF to enable preparedness actions to protect communities at risk and to mitigate the impact of the imminent dam spillages.

This plan is linked to the KRCS national contingency plan and the County governments of West Pokot and Turkana draft contingency plans, in addition to the plans of action from Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) and Kenya Electricity Generating Company Limited (KenGen) advisories.