Why were the floods in Kenya so devastating? | Weather News

The government was criticized for poor infrastructure, as 210 people were killed, thousands were displaced, and a hurricane was on the way.

Heavy rains caused devastating floods in Kenya, where more than 200 people died, thousands were displaced, and nearly 2,000 schools were destroyed. All remaining schools have been closed until further notice.

Rain has been lashing Kenya since March during some of the country’s most disastrous weather events in years. Cyclone Hadiya is now expected to hit neighboring Kenya and Tanzania late Friday, potentially worsening flooding. This comes amid recent heavy rains in East Africa.

Here’s more on the floods in Kenya so far:

How many people were killed and injured in the Kenya floods?

Floods have wreaked havoc in Kenya, causing death and destruction. Here are the latest figures released by the Kenyan Ministry of Interior on Friday:

  • At least 210 people have been killed, including 20 in the last 24 hours, and 125 have been injured.
  • Ninety people were reported missing, and dozens are believed to be lost under the rubble.
  • About 3,100 families have been displaced.
  • The number of schools that were destroyed was 1,967.

“There are a lot of people who cannot be found. Many of my neighbors cannot be found,” Jane Wambui, a flood survivor, told Al Jazeera.

Many of the people most affected by the floods live in informal settlements, such as Mathare in Nairobi, where residents have accused the government of neglecting them.

“The government says it has deployed the army and the National Youth Service and is intensifying search and rescue missions, but where are they? It has been a week, and where are they? I have not seen anyone here in Mathare. No one from the government has come to help us,” said Collins Opondo, a resident of Mathare. .

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Where are the floods in Kenya the worst?

In the southern Kenyan town of Mai Mahiu, a dam collapsed on Monday, killing at least 48 people.

(Al Jazeera)

Mai Mahiu is located in Nakuru County, west of the capital, Nairobi, which is expected to experience more heavy rains, according to a warning issued by the Kenya Meteorological Department on Friday.

What caused the floods in Kenya?

While climate events such as El Niño – the warming of surface waters in the Pacific Ocean, which causes heavy rainfall in some parts of the world – have been linked to increased rainfall, many Kenyans believe the floods have been made worse by water shortages. Investment by the government.

In Mathare, locals blamed the floods on poorly maintained drains, which led to water accumulation.

“This was caused by the state’s national railway company,” flood survivor Nahasun Egeria told Al Jazeera. They are the ones who built the waterway downstream and Upstream tunnel. “It should be their responsibility to maintain order.”

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On Thursday, Human Rights Watch published findings that low-income neighborhoods, such as Mathare, were severely affected by flooding due to “weak structures, congestion, and poor sanitation infrastructure.”

Olli Keita, executive director of Greenpeace Africa, said in a statement that the floods are a “stark reminder of the human cost of the climate crisis,” adding that “some of the damage has been exacerbated by misguided development.”

How did the Kenyan government respond to the floods?

In anticipation of Cyclone Hidaya, President William Ruto’s government has ordered mandatory evacuations for residents living near 178 dams and reservoirs in 33 districts.

During his national address to the nation on Friday, Ruto said he had directed the Ministry of Education to postpone the reopening of schools for the second semester until further notice. In addition to the schools that have been destroyed since March, many others are being used to shelter people displaced by the floods.

Ruto’s approach to flood management has been criticized by residents of Mai Mahiu and several informal settlements that have been devastated by floodwaters.

Human Rights Watch said the government failed to act after warnings from the Meteorological Department in May last year that Kenya would witness increased rainfall due to the El Niño phenomenon and would continue until 2024.

While the government has allocated at least 10 billion Kenyan shillings ($80 million) in preparation for the nationwide response, it has not outlined an action plan. In October, Ruto wrongly said Kenya would not experience El Niño rains as expected.

The Meteorological Department now expects rain to continue until June.

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What is the expected impact of Hurricane Hedaya?

Cyclone Hadiya is likely to bring “heavy rains, strong waves and strong winds that may affect maritime activities in the Indian Ocean,” the presidential office said.

Experts said that the hurricane is also expected to make the search for the bodies of missing persons and fears of their deaths more difficult.

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