NAIROBI, May 14 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's quest to realize climate resilient growth is facing headwinds as widespread flooding experienced in the March-May season of long rains is damaging livelihoods and vital ecosystems in the country.
A number of civilians have lost their lives and property of unknown value destroyed in the recent past as storm water swept across Kenyan lowlands and densely-populated urban slums following a heavy downpour.
Local media reported Friday that four people were killed in Nairobi's Kibera slum Thursday night after they were swept away by raging waters as they attempted to cross a swollen river in the country's biggest slum.
The heavy rains that pounded the capital Thursday night caused flooding in other informal settlements, marooning local residents and worsening the risk of disease outbreaks.
Kenya Metrological Department said Friday that the heavy rains are expected to subside this weekend, but due to already saturated soils, it is likely to trigger landslides in hilly parts of the country.
The weathermen said that light showers could become a regular phenomenon in many parts of the country until the end of May, hence signaling improved agricultural productivity.
Massive flooding that accompanied torrential rains in western Kenyan lowlands and the coast region in the past week has displaced hundreds of families, destroying farms, roads and critical amenities such as schools.
Cyrus Oguna, spokesman for the Government of Kenya, said at a briefing early this week that the state was working on a long-term plan to help communities cope with recurrent floods.
"In the interim, we will be providing humanitarian assistance to flood victims in different parts of the country. These assistance include food, life-saving medicine and shelter," said Oguna.
He said the government had prioritized early warning, renovation of urban drainage infrastructure and tree planting to cushion local communities from negative impacts of flooding.
Kenya has been experiencing widespread flooding in the past several years during rainy seasons worsened by human encroachment on natural buffers like forests, wetlands and mangrove swamps.
The recurrent floods, that are also linked to climate change and unplanned settlements in urban areas, have jeopardized the country's ability to realize low-carbon development.
Keriako Tobiko, the cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said that Kenya's ability to tame climatic shocks including severe droughts and floods, is key to boosting green and inclusive growth.
"We aspire to attain green growth through strengthening the capacity of communities to withstand negative impacts of climate change," Tobiko said at a virtual Kenya-European Union green diplomacy conference held Tuesday.
He said the government will increase funding, promote uptake of clean technologies and regeneration of ecosystems to boost resilience of communities amid climatic stresses.
Tobiko said that some climate change adaptation projects under implementation including construction of large dams, restoration of degraded landscapes and household-based water harvesting initiatives, are aimed at containing floods.
He said that Kenya is leveraging on domestic resource mobilization, partnership and technology adoption to realize climate resilient and sustainable growth as part of the pandemic recovery.
Chris Kiptoo, the principal secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said the government is focusing on community-led interventions to minimize the impact of flooding, drought and habitat loss on livelihoods.
"Ultimately, local-led actions will strengthen resilience of our communities and the natural habitats whenever they experience climate change-related impacts like acute drought and flooding," said Kiptoo, adding that climatic stresses will be inevitable in the future hence the need to boost coping mechanism for local communities as part of Kenya's green aspirations. - Xinhua