Understanding the Floods: An Analysis of the Causes and Responsibilities in Kenya’s Crisis

Kenya has in the last few weeks been having a big test: a downpour of endless heavy rains that cause vast floods. This natural disaster has discriminated against none; it has affected the rich as well as the poor, with the latter suffering the most. Even as the nation grapples with the aftermath of inundated homes, submerged streets, and displaced communities, the question remains: what has caused these catastrophic floods, and who is to blame for them?

Central to this inquiry is the looming specter of climate change. The World Health Organization (WHO) has explicitly warned of the exacerbating effects of climate change on extreme weather events, including floods. According to WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “Climate change is not only an environmental issue; it is a major threat to global public health.” This is in tandem with the predictions by climate scientists if the erratic weather patterns experienced in Kenya are anything to go by.

It is, however, an oversimplification if the blame rests on climate change alone. The role of government policies and infrastructure can never be discounted. Poor urban planning, unchecked deforestation, and poor waste management add to the impacts of heavy rains, making communities at risk of floods. According to Dr. Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, “Sustainable urban development and resilient infrastructure are crucial for mitigating the health risks associated with floods.”

However, this is not the responsibility of the governments alone. Citizens have to also look at their role in making the flooding situation bad or good. Rapid urbanization and informal settlements mean more often than not, encroachment of floodplains and wetlands, therefore, exposing the area to more risks of being flooded. Unsustainable practices like littering and improper waste disposal that often come about due to the lack of knowledge among people make the drainage systems get clogged up, hence increasing the impact of heavy rains. Dr. Neira urged, “From waste reduction to sustainable consumption, individual actions can make a real difference in building greater resilience to climate-related disasters.”

Kenya continues to grapple with the vagaries of floods, calling for in-depth critical reflection not just by the policymakers but also by every other citizen. What interventions could be put in place to increase flood resilience? How to envision urban development for sustainability and safety? These are the questions inquired and whose collective responsibility of their implementation would see Kenya through the ferocious challenges that climate change poses in order to create a better-resilient future for the country.

In summary, the issue of flooding in Kenya’s landscapes runs deep and has extended consequences on public health, infrastructure, and overall socioeconomic stability. Climate change certainly has a big role to play in this problem, but this is not just an environmental issue relevant per se, calling for measures in that area to address this crisis. It is in the synergy of efforts from governments, communities, and individuals that Kenya will be able to face up to the challenges posed by the flooding and, afterwards, be able to have greater resilience, better responses, and better recovery mechanisms to help prevent and mitigate disasters in the context of future climates.

Photos courtesy of: Firstpost, Beats-onit, The Star, Daily Sun

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