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Sunday, 18 October 2015

El Nino: Communities in Kenya get weather info, but not more

By Getrude Lung'ahi,BRACED
County governments in Kenya recently announced their readiness to cope with the predicted impact of El Nino, but are communities really ready?
The Kenya Meteorological department has predicted El Nino effects on the weather to begin in October and continue into January in some areas. Most of the identified El Nino hot spots usually experience floods during short and long rain seasons because the areas are low lying.
However, communities in Kenya are currently in a dilemma about what action to take after receiving advisories on El Nino from government and other actors. Though people are getting these weather reports and warning, they do not feel practically prepared for El Nino effects, therefore meaning the magnitude of the damage could be high.
The El Nino advisory may tell people to beware of flooding rivers, but people have no idea about how to act upon this information. Issuing advisories without considering factors that determine the degree to which society is prepared for and able to recover from natural disasters is not useful.
A field training/ Getrude Lung'ahi
Communities say they feel left out of the decision-making processes on the practical preparedness options – leaving a lot of uncertainties and frustrations among them.
Although awareness on what El Nino is and the potential risks associated with it has been widely conducted using electronic, print, social media and through public gatherings (Barazas) people living in areas that have been identified as hot spots are becoming frustrated on how to respond to the advisories. They expect the government to provide land/space and facilitate the relocation in terms of money.
 ‘‘We are told to relocate to safer grounds, where is this safer ground, how do we do it? I have animals that include cattle, goats, and chicken. How do I move with them including my other property and family? Surely I will just remain here and wait since I cannot afford the cost of relocating myself and family’’, says Joseph Koech, Rift Valley, Kenya.
In the maize production regions including Trans-Nzoia, Uasin Gishu and the western parts of the country, farmers have been advised to harvest their maize to avoid losses due to the expected heavy rains. However, farmers are complaining they are not yet ready for harvesting since it requires finances and proper planning.
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