Cabinet orders 48-hour evacuation from high-risk areas

President William Ruto chairs special Cabinet meeting in Nairobi on Tuesday, April 30, 2024. [PCS]

President William Ruto this morning convened a Special Cabinet meeting to deliberate on additional measures required to mitigate the effects of the ongoing torrential rains on life, property and livelihoods on the people of Kenya.

 The Cabinet received and considered a weather forecast report from the Meteorological Department, indicating that the ongoing rains will persist in intensity and duration, and warning that the situation could get dire because the soils around the country are fully saturated.

 Further, the Cabinet noted that the relevant Government agencies have completed the mapping out of all the fragile ecosystems around the country, which pose grave danger to public safety and health in the likely event of further precipitation.

 Consequently, the Cabinet directed that all members of the public residing within these risky areas are required to move out within 48 hours. These include areas near dams and other water reservoirs in public or private land, areas prone to mudslides and landslides and riparian lands along rivers and other water courses across the country.

 All members of the public affected by this directive will be notified by the end of day tomorrow, May 1, 2024.

 The Government has put in place measures to support the evacuation and temporary shelter of those that will be affected by this directive in the event that they require assistance.

 Further, the Government has identified public spaces in various parts of the country where those affected will be given temporary shelter together with the provision of essential food and non-food supplies.

 While the Government encourages voluntary evacuation, all those who remain within the areas affected by the directive will be relocated forcibly in the interest of their safety.

 National Government Administration officers (NGAO) are directed to work with county governments, humanitarian organisations and other stakeholders to ensure that the process of notification, evacuation and shelter provision is carried out in a timely, humane and effective manner.

 The National Disaster Operations Centre (NDOC) will provide the coordination of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), development partners, humanitarian organisations and other stakeholders to ensure a seamless and coherent exercise throughout the country.

 Security agencies will enforce this directive with the support of the National Youth Service.

 The office of the Deputy President will immediately convene a meeting bringing Government (MDAs) and development partners to harmonise resource mobilisation and coordinated disaster response to mitigate further loss of lives, and destruction of property and livelihoods.

 The Cabinet was also informed that water levels at Masinga and Kiambere dams have reached historic highs, with Masinga this morning recording its highest levels ever surpassing those recorded on 7th May, 2020. Kiambere Dam has also recorded its highest levels ever on 26th April, 2024, surpassing the previous historic levels on 29th November, 1997.

 The resultant effects downstream, especially in Garissa and Tana River counties, could worsen the already dire situation. Currently, large swathes of land have been submerged along the River Tana, thousands of people have been displaced, and lives and livelihoods have been affected. The residents of the two counties and others living near other dams and water reservoirs must move out in line with the directive of the Cabinet.

 In Nairobi, where the effects on people who live on riparian lands have been devastating, especially in the informal settlements along the Nairobi River, the Cabinet has directed that people living within the 30 metres riparian corridor move out within 48 hours as their lives are in harms way.

 The Cabinet has also directed the Ministry of Lands, Public Works, Housing and Urban Development to fast track the roll out of social housing to accommodate the many people living in the informal settlements, and giving priority to those that will be vacating the riparian area.

 The ministry and county governments are expected to enumerate and document all the people that will be vacating the riparian areas.

 The Cabinet has further directed the Nairobi Rivers Commission, the Nairobi County Government and the ministry to work with the communities living along the three main rivers in Nairobi - Mathare, Ngong and Nairobi - to create an additional 30 metres planning corridor.

This corridor will be useful for the development of social housing, roads and  other public utilities.