Nairobi county government says it is ready for El Nino

A man clears drainage at South C Estate in preparation for the expected El Nino rains. PHOTO: EDWARD KIPLIMO/STANARD

KENYA: Nairobi residents like most people throughout the country are waiting for the dreaded El-Nino rains with bated breath after the weather man announced the rains are expected any day from Wednesday.

Despite advisories on which parts will be most affected by the rains, most residents are staying on to brave the season with the hope that they will survive it despite reports that it will be worse than what was experienced in 1997.

Residents of Fuata Nyayo estate, an informal settlement in South B that is often affected by flooding, said though they are afraid of what the rains will bring but do not plan on moving.

"I was born and brought up here. I do not call anywhere else home. So where would I move to? This area floods but we just persevere through it," said Nelson Vitienyi.

A resident told The Standard that those who live close to the canal that carries water from different parts of South B and the ones at risk.

One such resident is Charles Makau who said: "I know the El-Nino is coming and I am very worried about that because I do not know what will happen. When it rains, the canal fills up and the water moves up into people's houses and some people have even been swept away," he said.

In an interview with KTN on Saturday, Evans Ondieki the Nairobi County's County Executive for Environment pointed out that those living along river banks were being warned to move away before the rains.

He said that 200 public schools have already been identified by the county government to act as disaster management centres for those who will be affected.

"Those most vulnerable to the floods are those in informal settlements. If things turn for the worse then we may be forced to move some families to these schools," he said.

He said the county government had initially set aside Sh100 for disasters but they are realigning their budget to ensure that unexpected emergencies during the El-Nino season are covered.

"We want to realign the budget so that we can have at least Sh300 million in case of any emergencies during the El-Nino. We may however need over Sh2 billion if we are to do an excellent job and if the rains hit us worse than we expect therefore we will engage the national government and development partners to help," he said during an interview at his office.

He advised those living along river banks to move before the rains pointing out that 200 public primary schools would be turned into rescue centres.

"People need to know where they can go in case of anything and we are in the process of identifying these schools and we will release the list soon. People should however not wait to be rescued but move before the rains start," Ondieki added.

He said the county government is ready for the rains that will run up to early next year adding that they would take advantage of the rains to harvest rain water.

He explained that the county government will buy 1,000 tanks to hold a capacity of 10,000 litres per tank to harvest the rain water.

"We are ready and we have made the residents aware of what is coming. We can only hope that people will listen to our advice. Residents should unblock water ways in the areas they live in and the government will take care of major drainage systems. We need to work together on this," he added.

Ondieki said drainage systems within the central business districts and areas such as Soweto, South C and Donholm have been unblocked.