Heavy rain has once again affected several areas of western, southern and eastern Kenya, causing floods and landslides. At least 13 people have died in flood-related incidents in Kenya this month.
Five people died after flooding in Narok County on 12 November. Three other victims died in flooding in Narok county at the beginning of November.
Since then, the Kenya Red Cross (KRCS) say that further floods, landslides and fatalities have been reported in Narok county. A landslide on 17 November 2015 at Kanteiya in Narok South buried a home, killing a family of five.
Dangers of Seasonal Rivers
On 19 November 2015, Narok County Commissioner Magu Mutindika confirmed that at least 10 people had died as a result floods and heavy rain in the county during November.
According to Chinese News Agency Xinhua, Mutindika told journalists:
“The seasonal rivers have now turned into death traps because the region has suddenly been hit by heavy downpours and most of the locals underrate such waters.”
Meru, Kisumu, Kilifi and Nairobi
Flooding has also been reported in the counties of Meru, Kisumu, Kilifi, and in surrounding areas of Nairobi. Yesterday, KRCS reported floods in Kisumu county after the River Nyando broke its banks. In Kilifi County, around 50 households were displaced after a seasonal river flooded a village.
KRCS also reported flooding on the outskirts of Nairobi, at the camp for internally displaced (IDP) at Ruai after the Nairobi river overflowed.
Flooding reported at Ruai(idp camp) after Nairobi river burst it's bank at 0300hrs. Water overflow spilled over and displaced 60 people.
— Kenya Red Cross (@KenyaRedCross) November 18, 2015
WMO figures report that between 16 and 17 November 2015, around 70 mm of rain fell in a 24 hour period in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu county, 85 mm in Voi, Taita-Taveta county, and 53 mm in Lamu.
Kenya Meteorological Department has forecast further heavy rain over the next two days. Heavy rainfall of more than 50 mm in 24 hours is expected over the Western, Nyanza and South Rift parts of the country and especially areas near Narok, Bomet, Kericho, Narok and Kisii.
Heavy Rain, Kenya and El Niño 2015
The recent heavy rainfall in Kenya that began in late October is being blamed by many on the impacts of a strong El Niño.
KRCS, via their Social Media accounts, are using the hashtag #ElNinoKe15 – El Niño Kenya 2015.
In their El Niño Climate Impact update of 02 November 2015, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa Climate Prediction & Applications Centre (ICPAC) said:
“The current rainfall season is expected to be highly influenced by the El-Nino phenomenon which is usually associated with enhanced rainfall within the equatorial during the October – December period.”
But Kenya may not be alone. Yesterday, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said that many countries are facing extreme weather conditions as a result of a strengthening El Niño. He said:
“Severe droughts and devastating flooding being experienced throughout the tropics and sub-tropical zones bear the hallmarks of this El Niño, which is the strongest for more than 15 years.”
He also said that countries are better prepared than in previous years. “The level of international, national and local mobilization is truly unprecedented, exemplifying the value of actionable climate information to the society”, said Mr Jarraud. “The preparedness for this El Niño will benefit from the systems WMO has been working to strengthen since the last major event in 1997-1998”, he added.