Kenya's rains claim more victims

Widespread flooding sees death toll rise during country's monsoon season.

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    The death toll now stands at 41, but the rainy season continues until May so the worst may be far from over [AFP]
    The death toll now stands at 41, but the rainy season continues until May so the worst may be far from over [AFP]

    Two children have become the latest casualties of Kenya’s recent flooding woes. The youngsters were buried in a landslide in Narok County on Wednesday after a heavy downpour destroyed homes and farms. It is believed they were buried alive as they slept in their beds.

    The death toll from the rains now stands at 41 and the Kenyan Meteorological Department has warned that the worst may be far from over.

    Saturated ground and the prospect of a long rainy season could see flooding continue well into May, they have warned.

    The government has attempted to alleviate the suffering by allocating the equivalent of US$19M to replace destroyed infrastructure, and helping the many thousands of villagers who have been displaced by the flooding.

    Dr. Joseph Mukabana, the Director of Meteorological Services and Prof. Geoffrey Wahungu, the Director-General of the National Environmental Management Authority have called for the establishment of a national disaster operations centre to deal with such situations. They also highlighted the growing threat of climate change-related incidents.

    They did acknowledge that the current situation had been exacerbated by human activity along the riparian, or near riverbank, areas. Farmers working here have destroyed trees and grasses which tend to reduce the flow of rainwater into the watercourses.

    Rivers are becoming increasingly silted as a result of this practice, allowing overflowing rivers to sweep across the land at higher speeds.

    Kenya is no stranger to deadly flooding; the seasonal rain in 2012 left 84 people dead and displaced more than 30,000.

    Although Kenya has two rainy seasons, April-May and October-December, it is the early season which is almost always the most active as the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) moves up from the south.

    Dr. Mukabana  warned of further heavy rain, saying, ‘The ITCZ is currently sitting over Kenya, this means that the air masses from the north and the south blowing over the Indian Ocean which is currently warm are pushing a lot of moisture into the country resulting into heavy rainfall.'

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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