Kenya has appealed for help to combat drought and food shortages as humanitarian actors fine-tune disaster reduction preparedness ahead of El Nino-related rains, expected across the country between September and December.
"Let's appreciate the seriousness of the crisis and support where we can," Prime Minister Raila Odinga said on 15 September in Nairobi, in an address to a Kenya Consultative Group meeting, co-chaired by the World Bank.
Saying the situation was "extremely grave" as at least 10 million Kenyans were facing hunger, Odinga urged the donor community to help the country cope with the impact of drought as well as the anticipated El-Nino rains.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA Kenya), urgent concerted action is required to mitigate the humanitarian consequences of the prevailing drought, which has extended food insecurity conditions.
The country's revised 2009 Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan, OCHA said, had only received 48 percent funding as of September 2009, yet sustained funding was critical to responding to life-saving humanitarian emergencies.
On 14 September, representatives of government ministries, UN agencies and relief agencies held a day-long preparedness planning and scenario development workshop in Nairobi focusing on the anticipated enhanced rains and the expected flooding.
Chaired by the Ministry of State for Special Programmes and OCHA Kenya, the meeting discussed the likely scenarios for the El Nino rains, the pre-positioning of food and non-food aid in areas where flooding is expected as well as the short- and long-term interventions that those affected by the rains would require.
Photo: Ann Weru/IRIN
A school submerged by past flooding in Budalang'i, Western Province (file photo)
Most likely scenario
The workshop focused on the most likely scenario, described as the "mid-case scenario", which estimates that at least 100,000 people will be displaced by floods and a total of up to 750,000 will be in need of humanitarian aid.
Under this scenario, flooding is expected along the river basins of Tana, Nzoia, Nyando, Yala and Galana as well as along the plains of the Tana river in North Eastern and Coast provinces; Budalang'i in Western Province and Nyando and Nyatike in Nyanza Province.
As the rains continue, more areas will be affected in the country including other districts in Nyanza, Eastern, Rift Valley and Central provinces, according to this scenario.
"We must also prepare for the effects of the la Nina phenomenon that often follows El Nino, where the country will be faced with renewed dry conditions; we must ensure the enhanced rains are harvested and dams are de-silted so that millions of Kenyans are relieved from water stress next year," Jeanine Cooper, head of OCHA Kenya, said.
Ali Mohamed, permanent secretary in the Special Programmes Ministry, said the government was determining what needs to be done to adequately respond to the expected enhanced rains and its impact on the population.
"A lot is expected of us as humanitarian actors; in terms of sounding the early warning, sensitizing the public and providing emergency aid to the affected," he said.
Abbas Gullet, secretary-general of the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), which serves as the government's focal point in disaster response and intervention, said all relief agencies need to work together to prepare for any eventuality.
He said the KRCS had already pre-positioned non-food items in most of the regions where flooding is expected to occur during the rains.
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