Life in Sikri Village in Nyamaji East Sub-Location, Mbita Sub-County in Homa Bay County, is not for the faint-hearted. It requires a lot of courage and resilience.
To begin with, to get out of the village when in need of essential services like health care, you have to cross a narrow water channel which is infested with crocodiles, hippos and snakes.
The simplest and quickest means to get out of the village is using a small wooden canoe that carries about five passengers when full to capacity.
The journey out of the village costs Sh10 one way, per passenger.
The distance covered travelling across the channel by boat is 300 meters and it takes on average five minutes.
Mr Fredrick Ojwang steers one of the boats which area residents depend on to cross from Sikri to Ndhuru, the nearest trading centre with a health facility and a secondary school.
He has made the journey to and fro countless times while ferrying residents who are in desperate need of essential services.
But every trip that he makes is fraught with danger, what with hippos and crocodiles lurking in the waters.
It never used to be like this, though, for the more than 900 villagers from 145 households in the village. Not so long ago, movement was never this hard.
Hippos and crocodiles
Things changed after they found themselves surrounded by water arising from the Lake Victoria backflow which turned their village into an island.
The phenomenon occurred when water levels in the lake started rising to unprecedented levels and the residents had to adapt to the new environment.
Movement from one point to another is now a matter of life and death for residents of Sikri Village which used to be part of the mainland within Lambwe Ward.
A narrow piece of land with water on both sides connected the village to the outside world.
The land had a murram road where residents would easily walk or drive through as they travel to other places.
Today, the land is submerged and the village completely cut off from the mainland.
It means movement of vehicles to and from the village has been made impossible until the water level goes down, which may not happen soon.
With no solution in sight, some residents, including school-going children, took to wading through the flooded path to get to the market or school.
It’s a desperate situation for residents who risk their lives daily crossing the hippo and crocodile-infested channel.
Thankfully, there is a glimmer of hope, thanks to the villagers’ own effort of constructing a structure to ease their movement.
The residents have began reclaiming the submerged land after repeated attempts to get help from the government failed.
The initiative is spearheaded by project chairman Athur Mbara and village elder Charles Aundo who have marshalled residents to collect stones that will be used to make a causeway.
What the villagers lack in engineering expertise, they make up for with sheer determination to ensure the structure is complete before schools reopen next year.
"We had experienced a rise in water level in the past but it was not as intense as this plus, this time round, the back flow has attracted wild animals like hippos which was not the case in the past," Mr Mbara said.
Area residents held a meeting at the weekend to discuss how they would undertake the project.
A villager, who owns a tractor and a trailer, has offered to transport the building materials to the site.
One factor that is pushing Sikri residents to undertake this project is the agony patients go through when seeking medical services at night when there are no boats.
"We rely on local swimmers who carry the sick on their back as they cross the water channel. This poses great danger to both swimmers and the sick," Mbara said.
Other than the challenge of crossing the channel, farmers, too, have suffered huge losses with hippos often destroying their crops.
“I don’t expect to harvest anything this season. All my crops have been destroyed,” Mr Bernard Otondo, a farmer, said.
Lambwe Ward MCA Paul Adika, who visited the village last week, appealed to the government to build a fly-over across the channel.