The National El Niño Steering Committee says floods have killed a total of 120 people, with Tana River, Garissa, Wajir and Mandera counties worst hit. Nine other counties are on high alert.
Addressing the media, Dr Raymond Omollo, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Internal Security and National Administration, announced that Isiolo, Kwale, Homabay, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Meru and Kisumu were on high alert.
“From October to date, 120 people have unfortunately died and their families duly informed. Nine bodies were retrieved in Mombasa while four bodies were recovered from Lake Victoria. 89,098 households have been displaced and (are) being hosted in 112 camps established in affected Counties. Through our search and rescue efforts, 2,058 people have been assisted and undergoing medical checkups at the camps set up, “announced Dr Omollo.
“The Government has similarly distributed food, water and non-food items to a number of counties including Busia, Marsabit, Isiolo, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Tana River, Lamu, Kitui and Mombasa,” he added.
Dr Omollo also announced the setting up of a Command Centre for Emergency Response, communication and information at Nyayo House, which will coordinate all government activities in responding to and managing the flood disaster.
The centre will provide emergency updates on the floods every day at 3pm until the situation subsides.
The centre will be responsible for documenting and reporting flood-related information, “providing early warning information, flood alerts, flood preparedness, safety and emergency response information to stakeholders and the public, and mobilising resources and combine capacities at all levels of Government to respond to crises.”
The centre will also “liaise with agencies in national and county governments to better respond to emergencies and coordinate interventions including rescue operations, humanitarian aid and infrastructure restoration to manage the different situations across the Country.”
The steering committee has also partnered with 11 ministries, the Kenya Defence Forces, the National Police Service, the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Kenya Coast Guard Service and the National Youth Service to improve response to flood emergencies.
The ministries are Defence, Interior and National Administration, Roads and Transport, Health, Education, Water, Sanitation and Irrigation, Lands, Public Works, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Livestock Development, Energy and Petroleum, EAC, ASALS and Regional Development and Labour and Social Protection.
The government has also sought additional support from other humanitarian agencies such as the Kenya Red Cross Society and the World Food Programme. Other partners have also been activated to support the delivery of essential aid via road and air.
Supplement emergency response
The committee has also partnered with the Council of Governors and the Kenya Red Cross Society to supplement emergency response and interventions.
It has also activated Disaster Response and Security Committees in counties to coordinate interventions and address disasters in areas where the need will emerge.
“Saving lives and reducing the impact of the El Nino rains through early warning and disaster monitoring remains the Government's top priority. Having every actor and stakeholder working in sync is the surest way of mitigating and responding to the emergency,” said Dr Omollo.
Dr Omollo also announced that some roads, including Garissa-Madogo Road, have been submerged from the approach near Tana Bridge and cannot be accessed from the Tana River side.
Garissa-Wajir road, he announced, was also flooded and remains impassable, while Isiolo-Moyale highway, becomes unusable when it rains.
He also stated that the Garissa-Dadaab road up to Liboi is submerged and impassable and that it has since affected the distribution of relief products to the Dadaab refugee camp. Maralal-Baragoi-North Horr road has been washed away and is not passable. Bura East-Tana bridge has also been submerged by floods, with the Ewaso Nyiro River bursting its banks.
On Merti-Maralal road in Samburu, slab drifts have been washed away. However, the road is still usable, unlike South Horr-Laisamis road in Marsabit which has become impassable following the drifting away of slab drifts.
Some parts of the Turbi-Buruk road near Lake Turkana have become impassable, forcing people to use alternative routes.
Dr Omollo also announced that the Kotulo-Elwak road which had been closed has been re-opened and that 36 trucks that were stuck for the last three weeks have resumed movement to and from Wajir and Mandera.
Maralal-Kisima road in Samburu and Marasabit-Maikona Kalacha roads remain usable.
“The Government is carrying out assessments to determine the cost of damage to these roads so as to avail necessary funds for the restoration. All major dams are likewise being monitored but Kiambere dam has a meter remaining to overflow and the Government is enhancing power generation to mitigate the challenge,” said Dr Omollo.
To reduce casualties, the PS has advised Kenyans to avoid crossing flooded rivers and to “gather flood alert information before travelling to areas prone to flooding.”
Kenyans have also been warned to always be on the lookout for flash floods and to avoid driving or walking through moving water or open fields.
“Shelter should not be sought under trees and near grilled windows when raining to minimise exposure to lightning strikes. Strong winds may also blow off roofs and people in landslide areas, especially in the slopes of the Aberdare ranges, Mt Kenya and the hilly areas of Western Kenya,” he added.
Two days ago, State House Spokesperson Hussein Mohamed announced that Sh10 billion had been disbursed to counties to help in handling of effects of the El Nino. Another disbursement of an equal amount is expected to be released at the end of the week.