Kenya: Imminent Dam Spillage - Final Report DREF Operation n° MDRKE046



Description of the disaster

On 29 October 2020, Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), with support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), launched a DREF Operation for CHF 148,019 to support preparedness actions in view of imminent spillage of the Turkwel dam. Indeed, by 22 October 2020, the water level 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. This was caused by heavy rainfall in the dam catchment areas which resulted in increased water in-flow averaged at 56.69m3 /s in October 2020 compared to long term average of 17M3 /s for the same month in previous years.

The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) estimated the increase of water into the dam at 325% increase to its long-term average and according to Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) forecast for October-November-December 2020 short rains, the country was likely to receive between normal to above normal rainfall. This indicated a possibility of sustained large volumes of water inflows into the dam, with anticipated overflow by end of October or early November 2020.

According to the multi-agency assessments reports, the anticipated dam overflow would result into flooding and displacement of over 60,000 households living along River Turkwel belt affecting several villages in both West Pokot and Turkana Counties. Per KRCS assessments, the below areas were anticipated to be affected by the dam water overflow:

  • Turkana County: Kaputir, Katilu, Turkwel, Kalemngorok, Nakwamoru, Kapelibok, Nawoyapua, Kalemunyang, Lodwar town and Kalokol villages.
  • West Pokot County: Riting, Emong, Reres, Chepokachem, Kudungu'le and Lodomong'itil, Itan, Sirwach, Morkoryo, Kang'ulitian and Sukut Villages.
  • Other areas: Villages around Lake Turkana and Loiyangalani in Marsabit County would have been affected secondarily by the overflows and subsequent increase of the lake water.

The aim of the DREF operation was to support communities at risk and mitigate the potential impact of the imminent flooding from the dam water spillage. The funds were allocated for preparedness activities that were conducted before the dam spillage and response activities that were to be carried out immediately the dam water begun spilling. Fortunately, the dam water did not spill and only preparedness activities were conducted, which still prepared the communities for any future threat of dam water spill. To note, the preparedness and response plan were linked to 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.