The number of counties affected by the ongoing El Niño rains in Kenya has risen from 19 to 33 and more than 80,000 households have either been displaced or marooned by the heavy rains, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has said.
Mr Gachagua called on county governments to allocate and release funds in response to the imminent threat of the El Niño weather pattern.
“The country has continued to receive enhanced rains over the last few days. So far, some of the worst affected counties include Mombasa, Garissa, Tana River, Makueni, Marsabit, Kilifi, Kwale, Meru, Isiolo, Turkana, Samburu, Wajir, Homa Bay, Busia, among others. At least 80,000 households across the country have been negatively affected- mainly displacements or marooned- with numbers rising every day. Cases of fatalities and missing persons have been reported,” Mr Gachagua said in a press statement.
He stressed the importance of maintaining drainage systems in urban areas to prevent potential flooding and called on development partners to step up their support.
“We call on counties to allocate and more release funds to complement mitigation efforts of the National Government and our partners,” he said.
Mr Gachagua added that the government had dispatched helicopters for joint rescue operations to reach families stranded by the adverse conditions.
"We urge those living in low-lying areas and areas prone to landslides to move to safer ground. We call on our people to be on high alert and avoid taking risks - such as driving or walking into floodwaters - as we continue to consolidate and work closely with partners to ensure a coordinated response, even as we look forward to sustained interventions to avert future negative impacts," Mr Gachagua said.
The government has set up a command centre at the Kenya Defence Forces headquarters to play a key role in coordinating joint, continuous aerial and ground surveillance to monitor the situation closely.
"Constant sharing of information among our partners is a crucial aspect of our strategy for effective interventions. We are conducting surveillance for both human and zoonotic diseases to prevent potential outbreaks such as cholera and other sanitation-related infections. In addition, the security of the camps is a top priority to ensure a safe environment for those seeking refuge in the challenging circumstances," said Mr Gachagua.