Sunday, May 20, 2012

Kenya: Flash Floods Drown 68 People and Displace Further 100,000

The death toll from flash floods ravaging several parts of Kenya have killed at least 68 people and displaced more than 100,000 others, a humanitarian agency said on Thursday.
The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) spokesperson, Nelly Muluka, said the floods have also resulted in widespread destruction of property and infrastructure and disruption of key activities such as farming and education.

"More than 100,000 people have been displaced and many more affected by floods, while at least 68 people have lost their lives since March," Muluka said.
The relief agency said the number of fatalities is likely to increase due to heavy rains, which Muluka, said have caused floods and landslides.
"This year has also recorded the highest number of fatalities from floods in the past five years with at least 65 confirmed dead. In comparison a total of 55 deaths were recorded for all of 2008," Muluka said.
The most affected regions include western and coastal areas and parts of Rift Valley, where heavy rains have washed away bridges and rendered many roads impassable.

Efforts are hindered by floods to reach thousands of people made homeless.
Muluka said the primary needs are in the domains of shelter, water, sanitation and health.
"The worst affected areas of the country are Nyanza province, parts of Rift Valley provinces, parts of the greater Nairobi metropolitan area and parts of Coast province," Muluka said.
The Kenya Meteorological Department (MET) says flooding has mainly resulted from several rivers bursting their banks, while landslides have resulted from saturation of soils.

May typically marks the end of the Long Rains season over most parts of the East African country except the western highlands, parts of central Rift Valley and coastal strip.

The humanitarian agency is currently undertaking an assessment through its branches countrywide to establish the magnitude of the problem and identify the most vulnerable of those affected.
Relief agencies and Kenyan officials say the number of casualties may rise as the rains are expected to continue for days or weeks to come.

The Red Cross said the displaced and those affected by the floods urgently require relief aid such as food, mosquito nets, tents, blankets, cooking utensils and medicine.

"This year has recorded the highest flood-affected population in the past five-years. In comparison, a total of 92,000 people were affected by floods during the entirety of 2011," Muluka said.
Meanwhile, business came to a standstill in the coastal town of Malindi after heavy rains occasioned severe flooding.

The rains which have been pounding the town for the last three days without a stop have rendered the central business distribution and its environmental areas inaccessible.
Malindi residents have attributed the flooding to the poor drainage system while accusing the Municipal Council of inaction.
In reference to heavy rains descending upon Mount Kenya Region, Muluka said the agency has issued an alert to families living in the low lands along the Tana River, especially the farmers who practice irrigation along the river in Garissa and Tana Delta to take precaution and move to higher grounds.

"This is because both Kindaruma and Masinga dams are full to capacity and KenGen may be forced to discharge the water. The spillage is likely to result into flash floods as the water levels of the Tana River rise," she said.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga: Climate change takes heavy toll

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said climate change has caused economic losses of 11.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2011 in his country.
Odinga told parliament late Wednesday of the steps to mitigate disaster risks and emergencies, which have grown in frequency and scale as a result of climate change since 2008.
He said recovery and reconstruction would cost 1.8 billion dollars.
"The government is currently undertaking disaster risk and vulnerability assessment countrywide," he said, citing a study carried out by the European Union and the World Bank to quantify drought effects and to advise the government on strategies to deal with them.
The Kenyan leader said preservation of forests should form the main part of the climate change resilience methods developed.

Odinga urged Kenyans to reduce the national carbon footprint to contribute to efforts to lessen the disaster risk profile.
"Our country has been experiencing droughts and floods in the same way we experience the sun and moon: One follows the other.

"As part of our nation’s efforts at adaptability to climate change, I call upon all Kenyans to mind their carbon footprint," he said.
The joint study estimates that Kenya needs one billion dollars for drought recovery operations, which include building dams and water catchment for drought-affected communities as well as restoration of livestock destroyed by droughts and diseases.

The East African nation also needs 830 million dollars to rebuild key infrastructure destroyed during droughts in the past year, believed to be the region’s worst in more than half a century, which affected nearly 5 million people, according to the study.

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