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Kenya strategize to ease effects of flooding

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Kenya has ramped up measures to mitigate effects of floods as torrential rains continue to cause havoc across the country, authorities said Saturday.

The Ministry of Interior and National Administration said the number of people killed in raging floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains since March has risen to 219.

“More caution is advised as the weather outlook continues to predict heavy to very heavy rainfall and thunderstorms over 33 counties during this weekend, with floods expected in low-lying areas, riparian areas, and urban areas,” the ministry said in a statement issued in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

There has been an increase in landslides and mudslides in West Pokot, Embu, Machakos, Makueni, and Nakuru counties, the statement said.

Areas prone to landslides and mudslides in various counties have been identified as high-risk areas and neighboring settlements are being evacuated, with the sites for temporary shelter for displaced persons coordinated by county security committees.

According to the ministry, the security committees are also coordinating the evacuation and relocation of people residing within a 30-meter riparian corridor of rivers and other water courses across the country.

“Approximately 206,240 people have been displaced with the government setting up 115 camps across 19 counties currently hosting 27,856 people,” the statement said.

The measures came amid warnings that a tropical cyclone is set to worsen the situation by bringing yet heavier rainfall to the worst affected countries, including Kenya and neighboring Tanzania.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned on Friday that the torrential rains could worsen with the arrival of tropical cyclone Hidaya.

“The tropical cyclone is the first of its kind to develop in eastern Africa and is due to have a very big impact,” WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis said.

Across Kenya, 164 people were injured and 72 others were missing, while 194,305 people have been displaced and nearly 205,000 people have been affected by heavy rains and flooding, according to the ministry.

At least 8,565 livestock have been lost, 36,344 acres of croplands and 46 roads have been damaged, and 608 small businesses, 39 schools, and 13 health facilities have also been affected as of Thursday, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society.

On Friday, President William Ruto, in an address to Kenyans, outlined a series of measures to deal with the emergency, including evacuations and urgent health provisions, vowing a “whole-of-government approach.”

“The current unprecedented crisis of floods that our country is experiencing… is a direct consequence of our failure to protect our environment, resulting in the painful effects of climate change,” he said. “Our country will remain in this cyclical crisis for a long time unless and until we confront the existential threat of climate change.”

Heavy rains are expected to continue over several parts of the country in the coming weeks, with flooding expected in low-lying areas, according to the weather forecasts.

Authorities and charity organizations said access to some of the affected areas may be constrained as more and more roads are either damaged or closed as a precaution.

The government said it is also carrying out assessments of damaged roads and mobilizing resources to address critical sections and restore safe travel.

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