Heavy rains disrupt transport, power in Kenya

Heavy rains disrupt transport, power in Kenya
# 06 April 2013 02:52 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Heavy downpour that began late March in Kenya is wreaking havoc in some parts of the East African nation, disrupting transport and electricity supply with numerous properties becoming flooded, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The government estimated that some 15 people have been killed and more than 600 families displaced by the flash floods and flood- related accidents in the past two weeks.

"The affected population is also at risk of contracting water borne diseases," the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) said in its latest update on the situation of flood across the country on Friday.

The government has also advised people living in flood prone areas to move to higher ground following the heavy rains in many parts of the country.

Widespread destruction of property and infrastructure has also resulted, as well as disruption of key activities such as farming and education.

The KRCS, the government and the Meteorological department said learning in some parts of the East African nation has been disrupted since schools have been marooned.

The most affected regions are in Western Kenya, Coastal region and parts of Rift Valley where heavy rains have washed away bridges and rendered many roads impassable, making difficult efforts to reach thousands of people made homeless by the flooding.

The humanitarian agency said it carried out a rapid needs assessment and the immediate needs of the affected households are food, shelter, bedding, jerry-cans and water purifiers.

"The immediate interventions include distribution of relief food, provision of shelter, bedding and mosquito nets, provision of aqua tabs for treatment of water to avoid diarrheal disease, hygiene promotion talks to avoid contamination of water and placement of two boats at different strategic positions," it said.

The country's electricity utility Kenya Power said its working towards restoring power to customers in some parts of the country where heavy rains have caused damage to the company's electricity infrastructure.

The company said rainstorms that hit several parts of Nairobi and environs over the Easter break left a trail of destruction on the power supply infrastructure, and customers without electricity.

"Vandals took advantage of the relaxed holiday break to sabotage the company's infrastructure in parts of city such as Dandora and Ongata Rongai. We lost nine transformers in Ongata Rongai alone," Kenya Power Deputy Manager for Nairobi West sub region, Engineer Haid Yusuf said on Friday.

He said the heavy downpour, marking the onset of long rains in the country, uprooted trees which caused considerable damage to electricity feeders serving several estates in the city.

Yusuf, however, said power supplies had been restored in most of the affected areas by Thursday morning with company's technicians aiming to normalize supplies in other areas by end of day.

The incident came as the government plans to distribute food worth 1.2 million U.S. dollars to victims of the floods that have hit some parts of the country.

Special Programmers Ministry Permanent Secretary Andrew Mondoh said the government will liaise with local administrations to oversee the distribution of the food and other items to families worst hit by the floods.

"Plans are underway as we have distributed the food and other items to provincial offices in the areas that the meteorologically department said were likely to be worst hit," Mondoh said late on Thursday.

The PS said the government came up with the plan months prior to the start of the long rains after the meteorological department warned of the likelihood of flash floods. He said the 5.9 million dollars has been set aside for the repair of roads destroyed by the rains.

The Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD)'s forecast indicated that much of the country is likely to receive enhanced rainfall during the month.

KMD Managing Director Joseph Mukabana said in a statement on Friday that heavy storms are however likely to occur over various parts of the country and more so in western and central regions.

He said there are high chances of floods occurring in Nyando, Budalangi and Kano plains as well as Tana River Basin, adding that cases of lightning strikes are highly probable especially in western Kenya.

"Landslides/mudslides are also very likely over prone areas in central highlands (Murang'a, Meru, etc) as well as western and Rift Valley. Contingency measures should therefore be put in place to avoid any loss of live and property," Mukabana said.

He said the Seven-Folk power generating dams are expected to experience above normal inflows due to the expected enhanced rainfall in the catchment areas.

"The hydroelectric power generation and distribution is therefore expected to improve significantly. In areas forecasted to experience enhanced rainfall, water-borne diseases are likely to be on the increase," he said.

Mukabana said the flooding currently occurring in various parts of the country is conducive for mosquito breeding that may lead to malaria outbreak in the near future.

Despite the havoc caused by the flash floods, Mukabana noted that farmers should expect good crop performance in most agricultural areas of the country due to the expected good rainfall performance.

"Farmers should therefore take advantage of the good rains and apply the appropriate farming methods in order to maximize on the yield," he said.

According to Mukabana, pasture and water for livestock will continue to improve in the pastoral areas due to the expected good rainfall performance and advised pastoralists to harvest the rain- water for future use.

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