Counting losses from heavy rain

By: VINCENT ACHUKA

The destruction of property, infrastructure and loss of lives as a result of the ongoing rains has raised questions about disaster preparedness among Kenyans.

The problem has also highlighted ineptitude on both levels of government and failings in essential planning.

So far, 20 people have died in the last two weeks as the predicted El-Nino rains continue pounding parts of the country.

And this despite an early warning issued by the weatherman.

A statement released Saturday by the Kenya Red Cross said 13 schools have been partly destroyed by the rains, disrupting learning for hundreds of students.

Some 2,088 people have been left homeless while 43 people are reported injured.

“Further 1,854 animals have been swept away by the waters especially in arid areas, while three bridges have been destroyed and six roads cut off. The affected bridges are in Turkana, Mt Elgon and Migori,” said the statement.

“There is a general increase in water levels in major rivers and inland lakes, resulting in increased vulnerability to floods in low-lying areas,” Red Cross warned.

The agency and the Kenya Meteorological Services have from the month of August been warning those who live in flood- prone areas or regions associated with mudslides to move out to safer places.

According to the El-Nino contingency plan released by the government, areas that were likely to be affected most by El- Nino are Nairobi, North Eastern Kenya (Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit and Garissa), the southeastern parts of the country (Kitui, Makueni, Machakos) and areas along the coast (Lamu, Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River and Taita-Taveta).

Others are the Kano plains, Budalang’i and the Tana delta.

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The risk of landslides is expected in areas with steep slopes in central Kenya (Murang’a, Nyeri and Meru) and along the Rift Valley escarpment.

A multi-agency El-Nino disaster response team was formed in October to disseminate information on the expected heavy rains and Sh5 billion was set aside by the national government to mitigate El-Nino effects.

On Sunday morning, at least 30 houses and two churches constructed in a low-lying area were submerged and two roads cut off in Maua, Meru.

In Nairobi, dozens of houses were submerged following overnight rains in Ruai.

On Friday, five people died in different parts of the country as a result of flash floods.

In Mandera, two people drowned in an overflowing water pan.

In Kakamega, another two people who were digging a trench were buried alive and in Trans Mara, one person was struck dead by lightning in Naliare village.

On Thursday, floods swept away houses in Turkana South, killing two men and leaving at least 30 families homeless.

A girl was also injured after a rock fell on a house.

In Nairobi, a woman was on Monday night swept away by floods in Syokimau and property destroyed as several roads in the city became impassable.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION