What you need to know:
- The floods are an additional misery to hundreds of famine-stricken and banditry affected families in parts of the North Rift region now in need of relief aid
- Noreb Chairman Stephen Sang, the governor of Nandi, said counties had launched disaster preparedness teams
- Mr Sang said thousands of families in the North Rift region have suffered in the past due to floods hence the need for precautions
- Several roads in Turkana, West Pokot, Baringo, and Elgeyo Marakwet counties have been rendered impassible, making it difficult for humanitarian agencies to access families hard hit by famine
North Rift governors have formed disaster preparedness teams to handle the effects of flooding expected in the ongoing heavy rains.
As part of disaster preparedness measures, counties in the North Rift region have advised communities living along rivers, near wetlands and areas that have previously suffered landslides, to vacate immediately, to avoid calamities after the onset of the heavy rains season.
The weatherman has warned of heavy rainfall up to next month and already, some counties have reported massive destruction and deaths due to floods and mudslides. Landslides are also feared across the Rift Valley region, where massive environmental degradation has happened due to rampant tree felling.
The governors, under the North Rift Economic Bloc (Noreb), have asked families to move to safer areas to avoid calamities caused by floods.
Noreb Chairman Stephen Sang, the governor of Nandi, said counties had launched disaster preparedness teams after floods rendered thousands of Kenyans homeless in areas that have witnessed heavy rains.
“North Rift counties under Noreb have asked communities staying along areas which suffered frequent landslides such as those families staying in Tindiret, Nandi South and Nandi North escarpment and people living along the Nandi/Kakamega boundaries to move to safer areas,” the governor said.
The floods have added misery to hundreds of famine-stricken and banditry affected families in parts of the North Rift region, leaving a trail of destruction and displaced families in dire need of aid.
Several roads in Turkana, West Pokot, Baringo, and Elgeyo Marakwet counties have been rendered impassible, making it difficult for humanitarian agencies to access families hard hit by famine.
A report by the Kenya Red Cross Society indicates that hundreds of families in the region are facing starvation and are in urgent need of relief supplies.
The floods caused by heavy rainfall are slowing down distribution of supplies by humanitarian agencies, county governments, and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to hunger-stricken families.
Mr Sang said thousands of families in the North Rift region have suffered in the past due to floods and as the governors, they are asking families to take precautions.
Counties have asked farmers to keep off from farming activities in wetlands and swampy areas as strict implementation of laws that prohibit farming along river banks are implemented.
An elder, Mr Joel Yego, from Chesogon market on the border of Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot counties recalls how the market was flattened by a mudslide two years ago. The tragedy killed more than 20 people and displaced hundreds of others who are yet to return to their homes.
In Elgeyo Marakwet County, several families that have in the past experienced mudslides have appealed to the government to move them to safer areas as heavy rains hit the region.
“Most villages close to hanging valleys are prone to mudslides and the government should come with long-lasting solutions, including relocating families to safer areas,” appealed Mr Jackson Kaino from Chesogon, Marakwet East.
According to a joint report by the Kenya Red Cross Society, World Vision, and Kerio Valley Development Authority, a huge part of the Kerio Valley region is prone to landslides.
“The landslides occur during heavy rains, resulting in loss of life, destruction of property, while crops are swept away by floods, exposing families to a food shortage,” reads part of the report.
Mr Sang said Noreb governors are working with the national government to have more dams established to increase water supply for domestic use and irrigation and enable farmers to produce sufficient food for domestic consumption and commercial purposes.
When President William Ruto visited Nandi county two weeks ago, he said his administration planned to establish more than 40 water dams across various counties for irrigation and water supply.
Past victims of landslides from Tindiret sub county in Meteitei location were forced to stay in local primary schools and the Red Cross officials and the county government of Nandi supplied relief food.
Mr Sang said counties under NOREB have resolved to increase tree cover by making use of current rains to plant seedlings.
Already Nandi county has planted indigenous trees in the Kimondi forest and more at the Kibirong wetlands in Nandi South. The program will continue until all the six sub-counties are fully covered, the governor said.
“Governors under Noreb support President Ruto's directive for the country to invest in serious tree planting to improve forest cover and take measures to address climate change and challenges of global warming,” said the Noreb chair.
The county government of Nandi has commenced the reclamation of wetlands after illegal grabbers invaded some of the government water towers and turned them into grazing fields for their livestock.
According to Nandi County Lands and Environment CEC Philemon Buret, the county is working with the national government to increase forest cover.
“The county is committed to recovering all wetlands and swamps, which had been grabbed and nobody will be spared until all the public land is fully recovered," said Dr Buret.
He said the county had received many complaints about water shortage in the region due to current droughts occasioned by the destruction of the ecosystems in the region.
Among the recovered wetlands is the Kibirong swamp of more than 1,000 acres, where the county put up 1.5 million bamboo tree seedlings.
The devastated Kingwal swamp, which harbours over 200 of a rare semi-aquatic sitatunga antelope in Kenya is also earmarked for restoration to secure more than 10,000 acres.
For the past two decades, locals have encroached on the expansive lush of reeds and drained out water for farming, which has narrowed the long swamp that cuts across the central part of Nandi County.
Dr Buret stated that action would be taken against defiant farmers who allow their livestock to destroy swamps and other vegetation that are sources of water flowing to Lake Victoria and its rivers.