Charcoal for sale by the side of a flooded road in Ngaremara village, Isiolo County following heavy rains on November 9. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Counties are staring at a crisis due to the National Treasury's failure to disburse El Nino funds for flood response across the country.

Governors and other senior county officials in affected areas say the lack of funds is hindering their response to the humanitarian crisis caused by heavy rains.

As a result, some counties are tapping cash from own budgets to prepare a response as conditions worsen.

Thousands of households remain displaced, with fatalities reported in Nyanza, Coast, Western, and North-Eastern regions.

In the last two weeks, at least 12 people have died in Western and Nyanza alone as rains wreak havoc.

The Council of Governors (CoG) has urged the national government to allocate at least half of the National Contingency Fund for El Nino preparedness and response.

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Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa said additional resources were required to manage the impacts of El-Nino.

Blame game

“In Kakamega, for example, we have set aside Sh20 million in preparation for the floods. We agreed as governors that each county prepares and allocates funds for El Nino so that there is no blame when floods break out,” said Mr Barasa, who is the CoG Finance and Economic Planning Committee chairman.

But some leaders in central Kenya say their emergency response is at risk due to low funds.

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza yesterday said her administration had not received money from the national government. This, she noted, had made it difficult to assist residents in Tigania East and Tigania West who have lost crops or being displaced.

"Although the devolved unit had an emergency fund kitty, there was very little in it," said Ms Kawira, adding that she had asked for assistance from the national government.

County Secretary Kiambi Atheru said they were depending on well-wishers and the Red Cross to assist affected residents.

Murang'a County is in a similar predicament, with officials stating they have not received any help from the national government.

But there is respite in some of the towns where Murang'a Youth Service personnel are clearing drainage channels.

Mini-budget

In Nyeri County, Finance CEC Robert Thuo said they approved a mini-budget for funds to respond to the crisis.

“We are managing with the little we have. We are forced to have a supplementary budget to respond to emergencies,” Mr Thuo said.

However, Thuo did not disclose how much had been set aside for the El Nino response.

In Rift Valley, Kericho Finance Chief Officer Gilbert Bii and County Assembly Budget Committee chairman Albert Kipkoech said they are yet to get funds for potential mitigation.

Nyandarua Governor Kiarie Badilisha said they have access to Sh5 million from their emergency fund as they await help from the national government.

"We had planned and that is why we set aside this money. So far, all those affected, especially in Githabai Ward, have been provided with food and shelter," he said.

In Nyanza region, all six counties are waiting for money from the national government to respond to the flood crisis.

In Kisumu, where over 40,000 households have been displaced, Governor Anyang' Nyong'o's administration has struggled to pool resources.

Finance Executive George Okong'o said the National Treasury has not communicated when they can expect to receive El Nino funds.

"We are using our budget for disaster mitigation and emergency response. A lot more is needed as the rains continue to avert a humanitarian crisis," said Mr Okong'o.

Public Service Executive Judith Oluoch said they have deployed a multi-agency disaster management team to monitor River Nyando, which is at risk of bursting its banks.

Homa Bay, Migori, and Kisii counties are also grappling with floods and lack of funds to respond effectively.

Homa Bay Finance Executive Solomon Obiero said they had not received funds from the National Treasury.

County Director of Disaster Management Oscar Abote said they are partnering with various agencies to rescue people affected by floods.

Mr Abote said families had been displaced in Ndhiwa, Rachuonyo North, Homa Bay, Rangwe, Suba, Suba Central, and Mbita sub-counties.

Migori Governor Ochillo Ayacko also said they had not received El Nino funds from the National Treasury.

The governor said they have been assisting affected families using county funds.

Last week, Mr Ayacko distributed food and non-food items to over 450 affected households in Angugo, Nyora, Konyango, Kabuto, and Modi villages in Nyatike constituency.

The governor added that they will build shelters for the families whose homes were destroyed by the rains.

[Reports by Anne Atieno, Mary Imenza, Olivia Odhiambo, Phares Mutembei, Boniface Gikandi, James Omoro, Purity Mwangi, Nikko Tanui, James Munyeki and Gilbert Kimutai]