The national and county government representatives in Migori County have formed a technical committee to work on flood preparedness measures ahead of the anticipated heavy rains due to El Nino.
The county disaster risk management committee, to be chaired by the County Commissioner and the area Governor as co-chair will also have sub-committees that are expected to support interventions up to the grassroots.
These sub-committees will be chaired by deputy commissioners at sub-county levels, assistant county commissioners at ward levels, and chiefs (and assistant chiefs) at location and sub-location levels, respectively.
During the first committee meeting convened in Migori town this week, the heads of national and county government departments and agencies and senior officials from the interior ministry crafted the terms of reference for the multi-agency technical team.
The team is expected to spearhead the efforts to protect the residents of Migori from the looming adverse effects of the expected above-average rains.
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the Kenya Red Cross Society (Migori branch), and the Office of Environment and Disaster Management were tasked with leading key departments such as public health, national police, and non-governmental organisations in coming up with initial preparedness measures.
County Commissioner David Gitonga, who chaired the forum, said that although the county government also runs a full-fledged ministry dealing with environmental issues and risk management, the national government would also complement the preparedness efforts.
He added that the national government was committed to protect the people and were ready as outlined in a recent presidential decree on the looming heavy rains.
Ksh 10 billion for El Nino response
Gitonga further said the national government efforts would focus majorly on the protection of people in flood-prone areas, water sources, and pollution effects. Part of the target areas include communities in and around the mining and leaching areas, mainly in the Nyatike, Rongo, and Kuria regions.
Other interventions would involve evacuation of people from lowlands to higher places and clearing blocked drainages.
In the long term, the government is aiming to ultimately achieve the 10% tree cover target that has remained elusive for years due to the wanton destruction of forests for wood fuel, charcoal, and timber in the area.
Also discussed in the forum was the regrettable deluge of plastic containers that have clogged the major urban areas. These could pose drainage challenges and lead to urban flooding during the El Nino rains.
The plastic containers sometimes unfortunately find their way into the rivers flowing into Lake Victoria, which affects the breeding of fish and subsequently affects the livelihoods of fisherfolk.
The Kenya Meteorological Department has mapped areas that will most likely be affected by flooding. These include counties around the lake basin region as well as parts of northern Kenya which covers the arid and semi-arid lands.