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State sets up Command Centre as El Nino death toll rises to 120



NAROBI—Kenya on Tuesday established a command center for flood emergency response and communication to document and report all flood disaster information from across the country as the number of people killed by raging floods has risen to 120.

Internal Security Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo said the team consisting of 11 ministries and their relevant agencies will provide early warning information, flood alerts, flood preparedness, safety, and emergency response information to stakeholders and the public.

“Saving lives and reducing the impact of the El Nino rains through early warning and disaster monitoring remains the government’s top priority and having every actor and stakeholder working in sync is the surest way of mitigating and responding to the emergency,” Omollo told journalists in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

The devastating flooding has displaced thousands, caused by unusually active El Nino rains which are pounding several parts of the East African country.

Thousands of homes have been washed away or are marooned, while farmland has been submerged and livestock drowned, according to the government and humanitarian agencies.

Some of the hardest hit areas have been the semiarid lands where pastoralism is the economic driver for livelihoods.

These areas are still recovering from the worst drought in 40 years as well, which has caused high rates of malnutrition.

According to Omollo, the emergency team has also been tasked to mobilize resources and combine capacities at all levels of government, and cooperate with agencies in national and county governments to better respond to emergencies.

Omollo said four counties including Tana River, Garissa, Wajir, and Mandera have currently been identified as the worst hit while ten counties including Isiolo, Samburu, Kwale, Homa Bay, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Meru and Kisumu are on high alert.

The Kenyan official said more than 89,000 households (over 500,000 people) have been displaced and are being hosted in 112 camps established in the affected counties.

“All major dams are being monitored but Kiambere has a meter remaining to overflow, we call on those downstream to move to higher ground even as the government enhances power generation to mitigate the challenge,” Omollo said.

He said relevant ministries, departments, and agencies have resolved to establish a flood multi-agency team, tasked with assessing and managing the current flood situation in the country.

Humanitarian agencies have also warned that this flooding may also increase the likelihood of cholera outbreaks, mental health issues, loss of livelihoods, post-harvest losses, and food security issues.

[By: Xinxua News]


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