El Niño episodes have been occurring every 2 to 7 years, with attendant impacts being experienced across many parts of Kenya. These impacts mainly result from heavy rainfall and the resulting flooding that hits most of the country. One of the most intense El Niños (The El Niño of the century) was experienced in 1997/1998 and caused widespread devastation across the country, causing death, displacement, destruction of property and infrastructure, environmental degradation. Since that big El Niño, other El Niño episodes were experienced in 2002/2003, 2004/2005, 2006/2007 and 2009/2010. During these episodes the country experienced various levels of flooding during the October to December (Short Rains) Season.
In Kenya the areas mainly affected by El Niño related floods are the counties in the North Eastern parts of the country (Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa), the South Eastern (Kitui, Makueni, Machakos) and along the coast (Lamu, Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River, Taita Taveta). Urban flooding also becomes enhanced during El Niño years. The traditionally flood prone areas of Kano Plains, Bundalang’I and the Tana Delta have the potential to be more flooded during El Niño years. The risk of landslides is also increased in settled areas with steep slopes in Central Kenya (Murang’a, Nyeri, Meru) and along the Rift Valley escarpment. Rift Valley Fever outbreaks in Kenya have been also closely associated with El Niño episodes.
Due to the high economic losses associated with El Niño, a response strategy has been developed to mitigate the impacts thereof. The planning was spearheaded by National Disaster Operations Centre (NDOC) in collaboration with line ministries, Departments, UN agencies, Non Governmental Organization and other stakeholders. Each sector has prioritized possible response in terms of the prime urgency life saving interventions and intermediate recovery/livelihood activities. The preparedness activities will begin before a predicted El Niño and continue throughout the rainfall season. Other medium term interventions will address the post El Niño period as communities and the country recovers from the impacts.
Community Preparedness will be enhanced through communication of early warning messages through county level coordination forums, government authorities and other partners operating in disaster affected areas.
The purpose of this strategy document is to guide a coordinated response for an event that results from higher than usual precipitation with certain areas experiencing flooding. It will guide acquisition of resources for response and a framework for planning at two levels of governance as enshrined in the constitution.
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