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‘The water will come back’: why Kenya’s struggle against flooding is far from over | Global development

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Using a short piece of nylon line with a hook at one end and a long thin stick on the other, a mechanic and a nightclub doorman have only caught one small fish all day.

“I’ve never been a fisherman before,” says Erick Ochieng on the edge of a flooded creek in the port city of Kisumu on the banks of Lake Victoria. “I used to work as a bouncer but nightclubs have closed. Sometimes my family sleeps without eating.”

As the frequency of extreme weather events increase, climate experts are warning of above normal levels of rainfall in the already saturated region in the coming months.

“Now we don’t have jobs, our houses are flooded and we are living in a school,” says Patrick Obondo, an out-of-work mechanic. 

Africa’s largest inland body of water, Lake Victoria, which is shared by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, hit the highest level ever recorded in mid May, submerging parts of towns and whole villages on its banks – and water levels are still high.

Nightclub doorman Erick Ochieng, left, and and mechanic Patrick Obondo try to catch fish to feed their families.



Nightclub doorman Erick Ochieng, left, and and mechanic Patrick Obondo try to catch fish to feed their families. Photograph: Ed Ram

“My family go to bed hungry,” Ochieng says. His rent is 8,000 Kenyan shillings (£60) a month. “I’m already two months behind.” He is not the only one struggling; nearly 84% of Kenya’s workforce is made up of informal labourers, whose families rely on money made each day to eat

Around 233,000 people have been affected by the floods in Kenya, and more than 116,000 displaced, according to the Kenya Red Cross, after two consecutive seasons of record rains caused rivers across the country to burst their banks, devastating towns and villages.

“The water started rising at about 6pm in the mud house and by 9pm I had to leave everything. My home and the animals on my small farm were washed away by the Nzoia River at the start of May,” says Celine Apondi, 50, sitting in the shade of a tree in a schoolyard in Siaya county near the lake. 

Celine Apondi is one of more than 3,000 displaced people currently living in Nyambare Secondary School.



Celine Apondi is one of more than 3,000 displaced people currently living in Nyambare Secondary School. Photograph: Ed Ram

Apondi and her seven children survived but the Kenyan government says 237 people have died from the flooding. She is one of more than 3,000 displaced people living in Nyambare secondary school.

As well as food items, pots and pans, and thick plastic sheeting to make tents, the Kenya Red Cross is also being given face masks – but Apondi says social distancing is impossible. 

The government closed schools in March to prevent the spread of Covid-19 but now more than 100 are home to the displaced. 

Kenya has recorded 62 deaths from Covid-19 and has had 1,745 confirmed cases. Movement has been restricted in and out of Mombasa and Nairobi and a 7pm to 5am national curfew has been enforced by police using violence and teargas.

Last week President Uhuru Kenyatta said the government was distributing 250m Kenyan shillings (£19m) a week to vulnerable families hit by the economic crisis and 1bn shillings (£75m) has been set aside for flood control measures.

However, apart from Kenya Red Cross emergency handouts, people who were made homeless by the floods told the Guardian they have yet to be given any substantial government support and cannot afford to move away from living on increasingly volatile flood plains. 

“I would expect the government to resettle these people elsewhere – that is the only solution to this place.” says Joseph Oyamo, a 62-year-old retired primary teacher, as he looks at an eroded river bank close to some houses near Ahero town in Kisumu county. 

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Joseph Oyamo on the eroded banks of a river in Kisumu county.



Joseph Oyamo on the eroded banks of a river in Kisumu county. Photograph: Ed Ram

James Okumbe, deputy governor of Siaya county, said plans to build a dam and dykes to control river levels have been delayed. “It could have been finished but the national government has not completed the compensation of the land owners [who need to be relocated and] live along the river banks,” says Okumbe.

There are predictions of above normal rainfall in the region between June and September, says Mark Majodina, World Meteorological Organization representative for eastern and southern Africa

Climate experts are reluctant to pin one weather event to global heating but there is increasing alarm at the frequency of extreme and unpredictable weather systems.

For the past decade high temperatures in the western Indian Ocean have heated the sea and moisture is absorbed into the atmosphere. That moisture is then precipitated over east Africa, says Guleid Artan, director at the Climate Prediction and Application Centre.

Artan says rainfall records were broken in the October, November and December 2019 rainy season, and a wetter than normal January and precipitation over the March, April and May rainy season have also broken records in the region.

A man jumps from a boat in flooded Busia county.



Rainfall during March, April and May has broken regional records. Photograph: Ed Ram

So much rain saturates the soil that chunks of farmland have broken off Uganda’s shores and created several floating islands that have clogged dams and the lake’s only outlet into the Nile River.

Three villages next to the lake are now partially under water, says Owiena Hezekiah, assistant chief of Kogembo sub-location, in Homa Bay county, which also borders the lake. “There are more mosquitoes, which cause malaria, and aggressive hippos have come inland.

“We are worried about sanitation and cholera. People relied on pit latrines which are now overflowing with water.”

Majodina says weather prediction data is becoming increasingly accurate and is communicated through the media to fishing communities, and to government departments. “They don’t sit on the relevant information, they act, but people are still resisting,” says Majodina. 

Flooding near Lake Victoria in Busia county.



Flooding near Lake Victoria in Busia county. Photograph: Ed Ram

People are reluctant to leave their homes, and think someone is going to take their belongings, he adds. “One needs to look at how you compensate people. Is there some sort of insurance you can give people once they leave [their homes]?”

“I had to walk for three kilometres to safety with the water around my neck,” says farmer James Yogo, 27, at an emergency distribution at a school in Kisumu county.

“There was a child from the area who died from the water,” adds Yogo. “Some people climbed trees and sat on roofs. My house has collapsed. No one came to help.”

“It’s just climate change,” Yogo says. “I’m reluctant to replant my crops as I know the water will come back – but there are no jobs and I have no choice, I’ll have to start again.”

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Kenya loses first doctor to Covid-19 – Nairobi News

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Kenya has lost the first doctor to Covid-19.

Dr Doreen Adisa Lugaliki, a gynaecologist, died on Friday morning at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

In a statement posted on its official Facebook account, the Kenyan Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) mourned the death of one of their own.

“We have lost a hardworking obstetrician/gynaecologist, a mother, a friend and a colleague to the devastating effects of Covid-19. Our condolences to the family and friends of Dr Doreen Lugaliki,” the post read.

Ms Doreen was also mourned by her colleagues who described her as hardworking.

Dr Mercy Korir of KTN said:

Dr Sewe Saldanha added:

Dr Mumbi Kimotho said:

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Thousands of youth to benefit from Kazi Mtaani project » Capital News

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NAIROBI, Kenya July 10 – The government has stepped up plans to ensure the timely kick-off of the National Hygiene Program (NHP) dubbed Kazi Mtaani early next week, State Department of Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Charles Hinga has confirmed.

An inter-ministerial team has already developed grassroots work plans that will see more than 270,000 Kenyans absorbed in the national programme with a Kshs 10 billion budget outlay as recently announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The second phase of the Kazi Mtaani program, Hinga said, will feature a more robust corroborative framework at the county level. The national government through Kazi Mtaani, he said will underwrite the labour costs while county governments will provide resources for the project’s development including materials and technical designs.

In the first phase of Kazi Mtaani set to close at the end of this month, Hinga confirmed that 31,689 Kenyans in eight counties worked on the national initiative designed to cushion the most vulnerable but able-bodied citizens living in informal settlements from the effects and response strategies of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking when he announced the Kazi Mtaani second phase readiness plans, Hinga said that from eight counties, the initiative is expanding to all 47 counties and will employ workers primarily drawn from the informal settlements in urban and rural settings.

The programme rollout will be overseen by the County Implementation Committees (CICs) led by the respective County Commissioners, with County Secretaries as deputy chairs and County Directors of Housing serving as secretaries to the CICs.  Adopting a truly multi-agency approach, the CICs will incorporate membership of County Executive Committee members from various county dockets, Municipal Managers, implementing agencies such as the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA), Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA), National Youth Service (NYS), and other partners working on projects within the program.

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“The Kazi Mtaani national technical committee has prepared robust works plans that will see more than 270,000 Kenyans earning a Kshs 455 daily wage and engaged in more community and infrastructure development projects,” Hinga said.

Targeted initiatives such as Kazi Mtaani, he noted, provide employment opportunities to underrepresented groups and provide platforms to mitigate the negative economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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“The objective of the Kazi Mtaani program is to provide a form of social protection for workers whose prospects for daily or casual work has been disrupted by the containment policies put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. This benefit cannot be overlooked as is it essential to the resilience of informal settlement dwellers during this time and after,” Hinga said.

The first phase of Kazi Mtaani focused on informal settlements in the counties of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Nakuru, Kisumu, Kilifi, Kwale, and Mandera.  These counties were hard hit by the first instances of COVID-19 and the subsequent cessation of movement policy initiated to contain the spread of the virus. 

The containment strategies have affected economic activity, making it difficult for those reliant on daily work to meet their basic needs. NHP will, therefore, focus on putting people back to work in the short-term as a measure to alleviate the economic impact of the pandemic within informal settlements.

In Nairobi, over 12,000 Kenyans living in Mathare, Kibera, Mukuru and Korogocho were enlisted in the Kazi Mtaani first phase and undertook daily sanitation and environment preservation duties in the respective settlements.

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Communities call for inter-state joint efforts to combat banditry – KBC

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Pastoralist communities living along the Kenya-Ethiopia border have proposed an inter-state approach in addressing cattle rustling and banditry menace in the area.

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The residents from Moyale and Sololo sub-counties have for a long time borne the brunt because the border is porous which makes it hard for adequate policing from both sides.

According to peace committees in the sub-counties negotiations between the two Countries could help in tackling the problem which has not only cost locals property but also lives.

The Chairperson of the Sololo sub-county peace committee Galmah Dabaso said during a peace meeting between the local Borana community and the Degodia ethnic group from Wajir at Bori in Moyale sub-county that the free movement of people and livestock across the border was an enabling environment for cattle rustling.

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Mr Dabaso regretted that the illegal livestock trade along the border had also encouraged the proliferation of illegal firearms that were normally used to execute the livestock raids.

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“Unless the free movement of people and livestock across this border is put under check these cartels will continue to thrive,” he told the meeting that was also attended by Moyale MP Qalicha Gufu, his Eldas counterpart Adan Keynan, Moyale DCC Patrick Mumali, Sololo DCC Dennis Kyeti and the DCC for Eldas Vincent Lamachar.

The peace committee members asked the Government to facilitate talks with the Ethiopian authorities for a long-lasting two-sided agreement that would assist in keeping check on those who cross the border with animals.

Moyale Peace committee Chairman Mohammed Nurr called on the Kenyan and Ethiopian Governments to device a method that would see bilateral efforts applied in curbing the menace along the border.

It was noted at the meeting that most of the cattle rustlers were capitalizing on the porosity of the border because the Kenyan security agencies can hardly trace stolen animals once the rustlers cross into Ethiopia.

The meeting between representatives of the two livestock herding communities agreed to foster a harmonious co-existence where conflicts arising from grazing resources would be resolved amicably.

A combined effort between security agencies and elders helped in the recovery of 620 camels, 300 goats and four donkeys that were stolen from the Degodia community on June 6, this year.

 

 

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