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El Nino rains: State sets up flood emergency centre to manage crisis

National
 Residents wade through a flooded road following a downpour at Bamburi in Mombasa County on November 17, 2023. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

The government has established a flood emergency multi-agency command centre in response to the escalating flood crisis due to ongoing El Nino rains across the country.

Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo said the command centre at Nyayo House in Nairobi will host relevant agencies and stakeholders.

He said the command centre’s mandate is to assess and manage the situation across the country and coordinate efforts to mitigate the effects of heavy rains.

Omollo said five disciplined forces, including the Kenya Defense Forces and the National Police Service, have been enlisted, along with 11 ministries and their relevant agencies. 

Worst-hit

Tana River, Garissa, Wajir, and Mandera counties have been identified as the worst-hit by floods, with additional nine counties put on high alert. The PS said that 120 deaths have reported so far while 89,000 households have been displaced and road infrastructure in some counties destroyed.

“Efforts are underway to address immediate needs, with over 2,000 people receiving assistance and medical check-ups in established camps,” said Omollo.

The PS noted that the government has distributed food, water, and essential items in affected counties.

He collaboration with humanitarian agencies, including the Kenya Red Cross Society and the World Food Programme, is underway to provide additional support.

“As a government, we are coordinating and partnering with our development partners and multilateral agencies to ensure that we address this emergency situation,” he said.

Living conditions

Meanwhile, hundreds of people displaced by floods in Garissa County have complained over their poor living conditions.

Those who spoke to The Standard claimed they have not toilets in their camp, a situation that might lead to outbreak of cholera and other water-borne disease.

Bula Kamor chairman Mohamud Abdi Omar is among 585 people currently at Garissa Vocational Training College said they have spent five days in makeshift camp with no help from the government.

He said their predicament has been compounded by lack of water in the camps, noting children, people living with disability and women are mostly affected.

According to local authorities, some 7,278 households in the county have been displaced. The displaced individuals are spread in seven camps in Garissa Township.

Mama Halima Hussien said the majority of people in the camps were farmers who have also lost their livelihood to the floods. She appealed for help from relevant government departments.

Pastoral Girl Initiative, a local non-governmental organisation that has been responding to flood victims, has been providing non-food items like soaps, shelter and water tanks.

The director of organisation Fatuma Kinsi described the situation as critical and appealed for more support.

Garissa Governor Nathif Jama has issued a stern warning to rogue traders taking advantage of the current floods to hoard essential commodities telling them that their licences will be revoked.

A spot check revealed prices of essential commodities have doubled or even tripled with a kilo of sugar now retailing at Sh500 up from Sh200, a 2kg maize flour packet is going for Sh600 up from Sh240 while a carton of milk had hit Sh1,000 up from Sh450.

[Emmanuel Kipchumba, Ann Musungu and Abdimalik Hajir]

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