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Over 130 people killed and drowned
as Kenya flooding crisis escalates   

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The raging floods that have engulfed Kenya since this March have claimed 132 lives and displaced 222,456 others, the government said on Wednesday.

Karanja Kibicho, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, called on Kenyans to exercise caution and extreme care during heavy rains in flood prone areas.

“Latest statistics indicate that 222,456 people have been displaced by floods while, sadly, another 132 lives have been lost in the floods,” Kibicho said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

He said a multi-sectoral team which had been formed since the onset of the rainy season in March has been working round the clock to rescue flood victims as well as to provide food and medicines to citizens in all the affected 32 counties in the East African nation.

Kibicho said the government has so far distributed food worth 6 million U.S. dollars and large quantities of essential medicines to prevent or contain outbreak of water borne diseases.

“The government will continue to carry out various mitigation activities across the floods affected parts of the country to rescue marooned citizens, distribute food, medicines and water, and restore water and sanitation systems to ensure hygienic conditions,” Kibcho said.

The East African nation has been experiencing unprecedented flooding in recent days as torrential rains pound the country shortly after it had come out of a severe drought season marked by hunger and water scarcity.

The low lying plains have borne the brunt of floods as evidenced by massive destruction of homes, farms, infrastructure and basic amenities like schools and hospitals.

Many schools in the arid and semi-arid regions are already submerged in floods hence putting uncertainties on resumption of studies after the April holiday.

Major cities have also been affected by flooding that is to blame for traffic grid rock and clogged drainage system.

It is feared that an epidemic could erupt in big cities like Nairobi and Mombasa due to contamination of drinking water.



Kenya says flooding likely to compromise food security

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The current flooding in Kenya is likely to compromise food security in the country, a government official said on Tuesday.

Keriako Tobiko, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Forestry, attributed the flooding to climate change as a result of land degradation emanating from deforestation and poor land use practices.

“People in most parts of the country are currently counting losses following the heavy rainfall that has been pounding the country in the past one month,” Tobiko said during the launch of an integrated approach program-food security in Nairobi.

Tobiko observed that the challenges to water security will likely grow as climate change results in increasingly unpredictable weather events such as flooding that are now being experienced around the country.

“There is need to enhance and promote sustainable management and resilience of ecosystems and their different services for land, water, biodiversity, and forests as a means to address food insecurity and at the same time safeguard the long term potential of critical food systems in response to human changing needs,” he said.

He warned that the ravages of climate change across many parts of the country could get worse as it is likely to usher in conflicts over pasture and water, human-wildlife conflicts, disruption of learning in schools and forest fires. 

Tobiko noted that program targets agro-ecological systems that will enhance food security as well as create direct opportunities to generate local and global environmental benefits to communities.

He said Kenya continues to face environmental threats and challenges that must be tackled in order to realize the desired socio-economic benefits and regional and global integration in environmental management.

“These environmental challenges threaten the realization of sustainable development in the region at large,” he said.

The CS announced that Kenya has received 18.9 million U.S. dollars from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) to support the establishment of the Upper Tana Nairobi Water Fund, a project that will be implemented by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Nature Conservancy.

Tobiko noted that the project represents one of the 12 countries’ projects under the joint Integrated Approach Pilot-Food Security on Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa.

He said the fund was established as a multi-stakeholders’ initiative to secure the sources of water for Nairobi city and Masinga hydropower system in Eastern Kenya and increase investment flows for sustainable land management and integrated natural resource management in the Upper Tana catchment.

“The water fund model integrates a governance structure and financing mechanisms for and by the stakeholders for accountable, transparent and sustainable funding,” he observed.

The Upper Tana Nairobi Water Fund will particularly contribute to rehabilitation and protection of water towers, strengthen environmental governance, water resources management and implementation of the Climate Change Action Plan.


Kenya faces worst flood crisis as country grapples with climate change

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya is facing one of its worst floods crises in years after rainwater displaced thousands of people across the country.

The rains have been pounding the East African nation for the last two months.

Up to 32 of the 47 counties have been affected by floods but the worst are among those in arid regions, which normally receive little rainfall.

They include counties in the dry North namely Mandera, and Garissa and at the Coast like Tana River and Kilifi and in Eastern Machakos and Kitui.

Up to 300,000 people have been affected by floods, according to the Kenya Red Cross, and they are in dire need of food, water, clothing and shelter.

The humanitarian agency has also noted that over 70,000 animals have been washed away, hundreds of acres of crops destroyed and thousands of homes marooned by floods.

Tens of schools have further been destroyed by floods, affecting learning in several regions across the country.

A number of schools are hosting flood victims as hundreds of learners fail to report back for the second term which started last week Wednesday.

Other infrastructure destroyed include roads and bridges, with the government noting it would require up to 600 million U.S. dollars to repair the network.

Julius Korir, Infrastructure Principal Secretary, said 110 million dollars will be used on repair of rural roads while 400 million dollars will be used on fixing urban roads.

Kenya Red Cross puts the number of deaths at least 112 and the society has appealed for 5 million dollars in the short-term to support families affected by floods.

In the capital Nairobi, the worst affected are residents in the tens of slum districts across the city, who have been displaced mainly due to poor drainage.

However, the National Disaster Management Authority and Meteorological Department on Monday warned of floods in several city estates in the coming days due to expected heavy rains.

They include Langata, Syokimau, South B and South C, areas populated by the middle-class.

The Meteorological Department had predicted near-normal rainfall in most parts of the country between the March-May long rain seasons.

However, the rains have surpassed the intensity predicted by the weatherman, pointing to their unpredictability.

Analysts have blamed the current crisis to the effects of climate change, as the weather alternates from one extreme to another.

“Kenya is battling two extreme weather conditions in a span of four months. Before the heavy rains, the country was gripped by dry weather that saw people and animals in arid areas starve to death. Now the same people who were starving are dying of floods. It is unexplainable,” said Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi.

He attributed the predicament to the effects of climate change, whose vagaries are raging due to forest destruction, among other man-made causes.

“It is going to mid-May when the rains are supposed to have subsided in intensity but they are getting stronger to the worry of citizens,” he said.

Besides floods and dry conditions, pests and diseases are other effects of climate change the country is grappling with.

Kenya is currently battling Fall armyworms that have ravaged acres upon acres of the maize crop for the second season threatening the staple.

But the worst it seems it is yet to come for the East African nation as more rains have been predicted.

“Heavy rainfall of more than 50mm in 24 hours is expected offshore and in all counties along the Coastal strip. On Wednesday, moderate rainfall of more than 30mm in 24 hours is expected in the South Coast region,” Peter Ambenje, acting Director of Kenya Meteorological Department, said in a statement Monday.

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