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Kenyan schools reopen after devastating floods

todayMay 14, 2024 7

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Schools in Kenya have reopened after flooding in the country killed more than 250 people. Kenya and other parts of East Africa have been battered by torrential rains, claiming lives and destroying property.

Human Rights Watch says that Kenyan authorities have not responded adequately to flash floods resulting from heavy rains. The floods have left at least over 200, 000 people displaced, destroyed infrastructure, and livelihoods across the country; and exacerbated socioeconomic vulnerabilities.

In recent weeks, Kenya and much of the East Africa region have experienced severe and ongoing rainfall, exacerbated by the El Niño weather pattern, with climate change potentially playing a significant role, according to recent studies. The government has acknowledged the predictability of these extreme weather events.

However, reports from social media and mainstream media indicate that affected individuals have received insufficient government support to reach safety and access essential services like shelter, healthcare, and food assistance. There have been reports of unresponsive police and rescue team helplines in some areas.

As part of its efforts to address climate change, Kenya has developed a comprehensive National Climate Change Action Plan for 2023-2027, as well as disaster response plans. These initiatives identify flooding as a significant risk, highlight vulnerable areas, and propose mitigation strategies. Additionally, the country has established a national disaster management unit.

In May 2023, the Kenya Meteorological Department issued a warning forecasting enhanced rainfall in the country due to the El Niño phenomenon expected between May-July and October-December, extending into early 2024.

During the same month, the government announced the allocation of at least 10 billion Kenyan shillings (approximately US$80 million) to prepare for a nationwide response. The Public Finance Management Act of 2023 mandates that county governments allocate 2 percent of their annual budgets for disaster response. However, the government failed to implement a timely national response plan.

In August 2023, the Ministry of Health began coordinating with county governments to stock medical supplies and initiate cholera vaccinations. However, in October, President William Ruto incorrectly announced that Kenya would not experience El Niño rains as previously predicted.

Written by: Tonata Kadhila

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