A family uses a boat after fleeing floodwaters that wreaked havoc in the Githurai area of Nairobi, Kenya, 24 April 2024. © 2024 AP Photo/Patrick Ngugi, File. - Photo: 2024

Catastrophic Flooding Takes Hundreds of Kenyan Lives

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK | 7 May 2024 (IDN) — “Maji! Maji! (Water Water!).

That was the frantic cry heard throughout Mathare, one of Kenya’s overcrowded squatter settlements in the capital, Nairobi, as torrential rains triggered widespread flooding across the capital city.

The rains have been ravaging Kenya since March during some of the most catastrophic weather events in the county for years. More than 200 people have died, and 1,525 injured.

Thousands have been displaced and 90 reported missing. Nearly 2,000 schools have been destroyed. Now. Cyclone Hidaya is expected to hit Kenya and neighboring Tanzania late this week which could further worsen the flooding.

While climate events such as El Nino—the warming of the surface water of the Pacific Ocean, linked to an increase in rain—many Kenyans believe the flooding has been made worse by poorly maintained, frequently blocked drains that have caused water to accumulate.

“The government says they deployed the military and the national youth service and they are stepping up search and rescue missions, but where are they?” Mathare resident Collins Obando demanded to know. “Not one person from the government has come to help us.”

This week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published its findings that low-come neighborhoods had been severely impacted by the floods due to “less solid structures, congestion and poor sanitation infrastructure.”

Enhanced rainfall due to El Niño

They cited reports by the Meteorological Dept. warning that Kenya would experience enhanced rainfall due to El Nino and it would continue into 2024.

“Kenya’s government has a human rights obligation to prevent foreseeable harm from climate change and extreme weather events and to protect people when disaster strikes. Extreme weather events such as flooding are particularly threatening for marginalized and at-risk populations, including older people, people with disabilities, people in poverty and rural populations.

“The unfolding devastation highlights the government’s obligation to prepare for and promptly respond to the foreseeable impacts of climate change and natural disasters,” said Nyagoah Tut Pur, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Kenyan authorities should urgently ensure support to affected communities and protect populations facing high risk. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: A family uses a boat after fleeing floodwaters that wreaked havoc in the Githurai area of Nairobi, Kenya, 24 April 2024. © AP Photo/Patrick Ngugi, File.

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