Nairobi County unveils Marshall Plan for El Nino.
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Nairobi County unveils Marshall Plan for El Nino.

Nairobi Governor, Johnson Sakaja, unveiled an El Niño preparedness Marshall plan and activities that will be implemented to ensure the safety of city dwellers and avoid disruption of day-to-day activities that might be occasioned by the predicted El Nino.

The crisis blueprint plan involves timely unclogging of the drainage system and a full and thorough review of the enforcement plan as he revealed that more policies on the marshal plan to solve the impending emergency will be communicated later on.

The Marshall Plan focuses on three pillars: Preparedness, response, and recovery. It promises to be a beacon of hope to Nairobi residents in the face of adversity.

In his opening remarks, Cabinet Secretary for Lands, Public Works, Housing and Urban Development, Zachariah Mwangi Njeru, lauded the county government for its dedication to investing in disaster preparedness which can help mitigate the impact, save resources, and protect development progress.

The CS advised the multi-sectoral team that as they gear up for the task, the mitigation components to be addressed include; ensuring physical infrastructure that is; stone water drainage, garbage collection, and sewer drainage to be able to sustain flushing water to reduce flood risks.

“As the National Government looks forward to collaborating with the County Government of Nairobi on this strategy, we are keen to ensure that social activities, public awareness, communication, and coordinated humanitarian activities are in place,” stated Njeru.

Most importantly, he emphasized that disaster management is only effective when there are well-coordinated and collaborative efforts between all stakeholders concerned.

Measures that Sakaja has taken include: cleaning and unclogging the drainage system and setting up an emergency number for residents to report El Nino emergencies.
As part of the preparedness plan, 1,200 wheelbarrows, 6 fire engines, 5 flushing units, 5 ambulances, 8 excavators, 4 exhausters, and 60 trucks have been flagged off.

Disaster preparedness is one of the most critical functions of urban service delivery in order to set measures with a primary goal being to prevent negative outcomes that may result in the destruction of property, loss of lives, and livelihood from the October-November-December (OND) coming to El Nino rains.

The five causes of poor drainage that increase possible flooding risks in Nairobi, are the poor building systems that do not meet requisite standards, the presence of inadequate and ill-maintained drainage, encroachment on river reserves, weak regulations on planning and enforcement, and climate change unpredictability.

In August, the Kenya Meteorological Department issued a warning on incoming El Niño rainfall expected to occur between October and December 2023.

According to the Met report,“ Highlands East of the Rift Valley, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Kiambu, Meru, Embu, Tharaka Nithi, Nairobi and the Eastern parts of Laikipia will likely experience rainfall throughout the season. Rainfall amounts are expected to be above the season’s long-term average and would likely start from October to January,” says the report.

El Niño is defined as a climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean during which the east winds blow weaker than normal. Its effects can influence weather patterns worldwide hence leading to heavy rainfall in Kenya among other parts of the world.

El Niño occurs on average every two to seven years, and episodes typically last nine to 12 months. Kenya last experienced the El Niño rains between 2015 and 2016.

While some may be looking forward to the relief from the scorching sun, others are already dreading the myriad of challenges that come with including endless traffic congestion on the roads, hiked fares on public transportation, poor drainage, and sewage bursts caused by flooding and power blackouts across the country.

The impacts of the El Nino include; increased plant and animal diseases, destruction of homes and properties in several parts of the country, mud/landslides, destruction of dams and bridges, deaths of people and animals, and increased spread of diseases.

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Counties are racing against time to put up response measures to counter the effects of the El Niño rains projected to start next month.

Mombasa Governor, Abdulswamad Nassir, confirmed that the county has started unlocking blocked sewer lines and drainage. In Siaya, a team has been set up to help map out areas that will be highly affected. Murang’a county, residents living in areas prone to landslides have been urged to be on the lookout following the warning by the weatherman on El Niño rains.

Local leaders are now lobbying for the establishment of emergency funds to cater to the livelihood of the victims who might be affected by the rains.

Countries at the highest risk of severe humanitarian impacts caused or worsened by El Niño from July–December 2023 are Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mozambique, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, and Sudan.

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