It may be the greatest flooding the country has experienced in recently, but unfortunately, it may not be the last. This may be the first in a series of weather-related events expected to hit Kenya in the coming years.
As the current weather patterns continue to puzzle millions of people around the world, Kenyans are counting losses.
Numerous people have died and property of unknown value destroyed by the floods occasioned by heavy rainfall.
As fate would have it, several months from today thousands of people will be in need of water for domestic use, irrigation and livestock.
Due to this, various government agencies have said they are putting plans in place to avoid more losses albeit late.
The Water Resources Authority (WRA) believes flooding has created an opportunity to not only harvest water, but to also identify and seal loopholes.
The agency is developing a database of flood and drought related events and highlighting the affected places, said its CEO Mohamed Shurie during an interview with HealthyNation.
In its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, the regulatory body has highlighted a plan to help mitigate the effects of climate change in the country. In one year, WRA says it will establish an early warning system for flood prone areas at a cost of Sh20 million so as to help concerned agencies undertake measures in good time to forestall losses.
World Bank, as part of the WRA plan, is upgrading the Flood Early Warning System through modernisation of water resources monitoring infrastructure, forecasting software and floods mapping, said Mr Shurie. Some of the infrastructure that has been upgraded include a system which has been relaying water level information in dams and rivers so as to monitor flooding.
WRA has also developed Integrated Water Resources Management Plans to guide water sector investments. The plans are also expected to address the impact of climate change through alleviation of the effects and adaptation.
Currently, WRA is developing flood warning systems for an additional nine flood-prone areas in the country.
Although the government has the largest responsibility of constructing dams and pans, individuals can also take advantage of the current rains, he said. “It is mandatory for all irrigators to have storage reservoirs that will cater for them for at least 90 days without abstraction from water resources to prevent over abstraction of water and ensure availability of reserve flows,” he said.
Although this regulation has always been there, not all irrigators have been adhering, meaning they are mostly dependent on the rivers and springs.
The agency will carry out groundwater abstraction surveys which have already been done in Turkana, Isiolo, Garissa and Wajir.
However, Water Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui recommended that other water scarce counties be considered in the survey. As such the authority intends to make it mandatory for developers to incorporate storage capacity of 2,000 litres to store water in every household. “The new Water Rules will have this as a mandatory requirement for all commercial and residential developments to incorporate it in their planning,” said Mr Shurie.
For its part, the National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority (NWHSA) is building 28 water pans and small dams in dry counties and four main dams which are Badassa in Marsabit, Muruny (Siyoi) in West Pokot, Merti Flood Control in Isiolo and Umaa in Kitui.
It is finalising the development of its strategic plan 2019-2022 and aims at increasing water storage in the country by 32.9 million cubic metres by 2022.
However, construction of some dams had been halted. A review consultant submitted an inception report on Badasa and Umaa. Unfortunately, the study on the two dams was stopped due to an outstanding invoice amounting to Sh40.9 million (Umaa) and Sh35.6 million (Badasa). A feasibility study was also stopped for Londiani while an Environmental Impact Assessment stands in the way of Isiolo Dam.
Construction of Bosto dam in Bomet is yet to start despite a contract having been signed, “Land issue with Kenya Forest Service is yet to be resolved, but is at an advanced stage,” said NWHSA.