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Early warning systems can help build resilience against future flooding

 A man is seen carrying his shoes as he crosses a flooded Kenyatta Avenue round about in Nairobi the section has poor drainage system. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Flooding caused by heavy rains is wreaking havoc in mudslide-prone areas in West Pokot county, in the northwest region of Kenya. The heavy downpour has led to flash floods, landslides, and rockfalls that have claimed several lives and caused significant destruction of property.

In November 2019, one of the worst landslides killed 52 persons. This resulted in the loss of an unknown number of livestock and loss of property of unknown value. More than 22,000 households were displaced in Sebit, Parua, Nyarkulian, Muino, Tamkal, and Batei.

According to the local authorities, the most affected areas are the low-lying regions, which are prone to flooding. Several families have been forced to evacuate their homes and seek refuge in temporary shelters set up by the government and NGOs.

In addition to the loss of lives and property, the flooding has also had a significant impact on infrastructure in the region. Roads have been washed away, bridges have collapsed, and power lines have been cut, further hampering relief efforts.

The situation has been exacerbated by the fact that West Pokot county is one of the most remote regions in Kenya, with limited access to infrastructure and services. The local authorities are struggling to provide aid to those affected, with many families still waiting for assistance days after the floods.

The Kenyan government, in partnership with humanitarian organisations, has launched several initiatives to address the impact of the flooding in West Pokot county. These include providing food aid, temporary shelter, and medical assistance to those affected.

For example, following the 2019 landslides in West Pokot, the government responded putting in place interventions such as temporary and extraordinary mobilization of resources to address the floods and landslides.

The government announced that, through the National Treasury and Planning, it had a three-month window to mobilise domestic and external resources to address this unforeseen event.

However, the situation remains dire, with many families still stranded and in urgent need of assistance. There are concerns that the situation could worsen if the heavy rains persist, with fears of more landslides and flash floods.

In conclusion, the flooding in West Pokot county is a significant challenge that requires urgent action from the government, NGOs, and the international community.

The long-term solution to the problem requires a multi-faceted approach, including investment in infrastructure, early warning systems, and disaster preparedness measures. The government and humanitarian organizations must work together to provide immediate relief and to build resilience in the face of future flooding

Jecktone Odhiambo is a resident of Trans Nzoia

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