Kenyan Citizens question how the funds set aside for El Nino preparedness would be used. The questions arose just under 24 hours after President William Ruto announced that the country would not be experiencing the anticipated El Nino rains.
The Kenya Meteorological Department released an announcement mentioning that the El Nino rains would not be experienced. Instead, Kenya would face short rains in the seasons that were meant for El Nino.
On September 28, the government held a stakeholders meeting and was chaired by the Deputy President, Rigathi Gachagua. The government estimated that it needed about Ksh 10 billion to manage the anticipated El Nino effects. The budget was mainly aimed towards the Arid and Semi-Arid land areas in the country.
In addition to that, counties had already started making plans to cushion the citizens from the effects of the rains. A list was released of areas that would most likely be prone to floods due to the rains and advised taking alternative measures including evacuation.
El Nino Rains
Part of the plans to deal with the rains in Nairobi included the purchase of motor boats, inflatable water rafts, and boats for flood-related disasters. They also hired 3,500 youths who would assist in cleaning the city which included the unclogging and cleaning of drainages.
Homa Bay County mentioned that they were collaborating with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). This would allow them to have access to emergency kits in the region. They would also partner with the Kenya Red Cross which would help in leading the evacuation and emergency response operations in the region.
For most counties, the plans included the unclogging of drainages and sewer lines, giving low-lying areas along the coast special attention, and creating evacuation plans for the areas to be most affected. In addition to that, the residents of various counties were being prepared to remain vigilant for any signs of danger.
In areas that would be prone to landslide effects, the plan was to acquire gabions and deploy them to those areas that lack them. This would be done through the use of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
In other areas, the people were advised to start tree planting in the regions. This would help protect the soils from erosion which would be an impact from the rains. They were equally carrying out education on how to manage livestock during the heavy rains.
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Response to the Billions Set Aside
With President Ruto’s declaration and confirmation of no El Nino rains, the government is left with a problem. The weatherman mentioned that the rains have been scaled down to just short rains during the season. Consequently, the government has to ensure that the billions set aside and disbursed are used well and not extorted.
The Belgut Member of Parliament, Nelson Koech, mentioned that the parliament would conduct an oversight on the use of the distributed money. According to him, the funds would be put to good use and not squandered as citizens fear.
“It is important to make sure that there was prudent use of those resources because I know there were people who were itching to tap on that money. We as MPs are going to oversight to make sure that any money,” he said.
The MP made sure to note that he had earlier suspicions about the predictions mentioned. He argued that there was nothing pointing towards the direction of a possible weather crisis at the time.
“I had personally cursed out the predictions that had been given, I was a bit skeptical. I have tried to look at all the science involved and I couldn’t find anything that could point towards that end,” he said.
It is however hoped that the government would always be ready for such occurrences. This includes instances when we are told beforehand and those times when natural disasters strike without warning. Some claim that since there have been disasters happening across the world, Kenya should be ready despite the warning of El Nino being called off.