Kenya Issues Dire Warning of Dam Overflow, Orders Flood Evacuations

Kenya Issues Dire Warning of Dam Overflow, Orders Flood
Reuters People in areas expected to flood have been ordered to evacuate by Friday evening

Kenya Issues Dire Warning of Dam Overflow, Orders Flood Evacuations

The Kenyan government has taken urgent action in response to the persistent heavy rains, ordering residents near 178 dams and reservoirs to evacuate due to the imminent risk of overflowing. This directive, issued by the interior ministry, emphasizes the potential danger posed to those living in proximity to these water bodies. Additionally, individuals residing within a 30-meter wetland corridor of the Nairobi River have been given a 24-hour ultimatum to vacate the area voluntarily or face forced evacuation.

President William Ruto has issued a warning about the looming threat of the country’s first-ever cyclone, Hidaya. The cyclone could unleash torrential rain, strong winds, and dangerous waves, potentially disrupting marine activities along the Kenyan coast. The president has also highlighted the likelihood of prolonged and intensified rainfall throughout the month and beyond.

Tragically, the recent deluge has already claimed numerous lives, with Kenya recording 210 fatalities and 90 individuals still reported missing since March. Tanzania and Burundi have also been significantly affected, with 155 and 29 deaths respectively. The devastation includes a devastating mudslide near Mai Mahiu that claimed approximately 50 lives and widespread flooding across Nairobi.

In response to the crisis, the Kenyan government has mobilized resources to establish temporary shelters and provide essential supplies for evacuees. Furthermore, evacuation efforts encompass areas surrounding the Nairobi Dam and Titanic Dam, with plans to clear buildings within the Nairobi River wetland zone. However, the exact number of individuals impacted by the evacuation order remains uncertain.

President Ruto has ordered the continued closure of schools, originally scheduled to reopen after the Easter holidays, due to the ongoing flooding. Despite criticism regarding the government’s response time, assurances have been made regarding assistance for displaced individuals, including the procurement of land. However, challenges persist, with some displaced individuals still lacking adequate support.

Acknowledging the severity of the situation, the government has pledged to prioritize climate change mitigation measures. The extreme weather conditions are attributed, in part, to the Indian Ocean Dipole, which influences weather patterns by altering surface water temperatures. Climate change exacerbates these phenomena, leading to more erratic and severe weather events.

In light of these challenges, the government underscores the importance of a comprehensive approach to address the impacts of climate change and provide assistance to affected communities.

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