North Rift Floods " Brutal reminder" of climate change reality
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14 August 2018
Author :   Caleb Kemboi
Floods in Kenya : >> Image Credits by:Caleb Kemboi

ELDORET, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Peter Kinywa 47,  was born and raised in Uasin Gishu County more than a decade ago by his late grandparents.

For the period he has been a life, Kinywa confessed that he has never seen such raging floods like the one that swept what he has known as his home for 20 years leaving him homeless man.

Kinywa residents in Kamukunji estate, which is located in the outskirts of Eldoret town, one among the many centers that was recently hit badly by the raging floods that caused havoc to not only the residents of Eldoret but also to residents of the neigbouring counties of Elgeyo- Marakwet and Baringo.

Kinywa has now been left a homeless man venting over is family of seven children.

He said they have been forced to seek accommodation from friends and relatives even as fears loom over a disease outbreak.

According to Kinywa, most dams and rivers have been filled to capacity and crops have  been washed away.

“ We do not have any food and roof over our head as this rain continue to rain havoc.” He said.

The father of seven accused the county government of Uasin Gishu for doing little in preparation such extreme weather condition.

“ The metrological departments had warned that the region was going to experience extreme weather pattern such as flooding but the county government did not move with speed to clear drainages.”

He said with disappointment.

The heavy rains continue to wreak havoc in the country causing death of over hundred people and displacing more than 10,000 others.

In the neighbouring counties of Baringo and Elgeyo – Marakwet the situation is no different. Kenya Red Cross reported that two school had been shut down with over 500 houses destroyed.

The Iten-Kabarnet which connect the two counties was also cut off by landslides following heavy rains in parts of the North Rift region.

“ Heavy rocks and mud rolled down the escarpments in Kerio Valley and blocked the road at Kamok near Kolol center thus paralyzing transport along the route that links Elgeyo Marakwet with Baringo counties.” Said Amos Ole Mpaka, a resident of Baringo county.

Ole Mpaka noted that a significant number of motorists ferrying people and goods between the two counties remained stranded at the areas that were cut off with no movement on both sides.

More than 1,500 families in areas prone to mudslides in Elgeyo Marakwet, Uasin Gishu and Nandi Counties have been asked to move to safer areas with the rains expected to increase.

Public health officials ordered closure of the Kapseret and Arbuch primary schools in Uasin Gishu after toilets were submerged and destroyed by floods.

Headteacher at Kapseret primary in Uasin Gishu County Daniel Shongoi is appealed for assistance to construct new toilets at the school.

“We cannot put the lives of the children at risk and so we have decided to close the schools indefinitely so that repairs are done”, said Shongoi.

Floods have displaced several families in Eldoret where hundreds of houses were partly submerged by water.

Most affected are residents of Kidiwa, Kamkunji and Eeistleigh estates where more than 500 houses were damaged by water.

Uasin Gishu County Commissioner Abdi Hassan said they were monitoring the situation in the region where rains have been on the increase.

“We have our disaster management teams in place and we are asking those in risky areas to take extra precaution and move once they detect increasing volumes of water”, said Hassan.

Five dams in Uasin Gishu have also been classified as dangerous and engineers have been deployed to carry out repairs in order to avert disasters like the one in Solai two weeks ago.

County executive for environment Mary Njogu says the region has 300 dams and already they have been inspected for safety.

She says 18 of the dams put up during colonial times have undergone major repairs by the county to ensure they are safe because they are being used to store huge volumes of water.

According to Njogu, the extreme weather condition being witnessed recently in Eldoret and the neigbouring counties of the North Rift has never been witnessed before.

“ We as county we are being re –awaken that the hazard of climate change is here with us.” She said.   
The CEC said they will push for legislation that shall ensure that proper policies and sufficient resources is set aside to mitigate climate change.

Even as the county government seek to find redress on the matter, trader in Eldoret are counting losses following a heavy downpour that has caused extensive damage to their buildings and properties.

The downpour increased rapidly destroying property, sweeping away parked vehicles and breaking electricity posts.

Business owners  tried to salvaged valuables in the wake of what many called some of the worst floods to hit the region.

“The situation is pathetic. I have never seen it this bad. The county government should do something because at end of the day the landlord will come knocking our doors asking for rent,” said Anne Kirui, 55, a businesswoman.

Mrs Kirui and her grandson were stuck for three hours in her cosmetics shop waiting for help from the fire brigade that never came.

“Imagine I had to put my grandson on my shoulder for three hours as I called the fire department to come, but they never picked my calls. I have lost almost half a million in the floods,” she added

Uasin Gishu District Hospital was also not spared either. The floods destroyed the drug store, according to Wilson Kemei, the chief officer for Health.

“The most affected place is the drug store. Patients had to wait for long hours to be served by medics who were removing water from the building,” said Mr. Kemei.

Residents of the town blamed the county government, saying it was not maintaining drainage systems near business premises and roads.

“We are using generator pumps to drain off water from our premises. If only the county government could have done their work in terms of drainage systems we couldn’t be wasting our resources now,” said one official of a Khetia supermarket who could not ascertain his losses in the floods.

Uasin Gishu Land and Planning minister Eng. Nelson Maritim said the county government was working on drainage systems to avoid such floods in future.

“We need to have waterways because the drainage is not proper. Some people are living on land where drainage systems are supposed to be and we will be giving them notice to vacate so that we can improve the drainages,” said Maritim

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