The irony we face in Kenya is; we experience a cycle of prolonged drought and hunger, followed by heavy rains and floods, yet we never learn how to cope. For the past three months, we have been grappling with heavy rains. We witnessed people dying, food destroyed, large scale infrastructure damage and people losing their homes due to floods.
Well ……to be quite honest, you can agree with me when I say that, the recent rainy season was disappointing. It hurt our country’s economy.
Word on the street is, the last time we had such heavy rainfall was 55 years ago. According to the recent review by the Kenya Meteorological Department, Kenya experienced the heaviest rainfall on March-April, 2018 and above-normal rainfall in mid-May, 2018.
However, I still feel that we could have coped well if; we took Disaster preparedness and response strategies seriously in this country and had made good use of the Water management policies and laws that are on our dusty shelves.
We know that Climate change is real. We preach it every day. But what are we doing in regards to fighting it?
It should be clear by now, we need to build a bridge to break the cycle of moving from drought to flood.
Water is a resource that is very essential not only for domestic use, but also farming. Sustainable crop production requires a consistent supply of water to make up the difference. We need to come up with innovative ways of addressing our water challenges in Kenya.
As much as CS Tobiko is working hard to improve forest cover in Kenya, I would wish that he would use the same zeal in having initiatives that prioritize the rehabilitation of wetlands. If you are here wondering what a wetland is, kindly read my previous article on the Ramsar Convention.
The relationship between wetlands and floods is not rocket science. It’s quite easy to understand. Wetlands act like natural sponges which help in the mitigation of flash-floods.
Wetlands hold flood water and release it slowly, which helps a lot in resisting flood wave. The speed of flood waters is also reduced by; trees, root mats and other wetland vegetation which slow the wave velocity. They also retain some portion during peak storm or overflow and slowly release towards the lower gradient. ( Maybe this last part was slightly complex…. But I know you get what am trying to say)
We make water harvesting look expensive but in real sense, it is not. For example, if the wetlands are well rehabilitated, they can help in reducing the amount of water lost as runoff and preventing flash floods, which destroy property and take lives.
The Environment CS could also work on ways in which he would make harvesting of water at the grass root level affordable.
There should be more initiatives not only done by the National government but also the County governments on educating the general public on different ways of harvesting rainwater. Through such initiatives, we can be able to cope as a country in between the two seasons. Harvesting water will help us have some stored water to use during the dry seasons and the rehabilitation of some of the water bodies would mean we would reduce the amount of damage caused by floods.
With sound environmental governance, issues such as; employment, Food and nutrition security and the water challenges we face in this country will be addressed. All we need is; have a proper implementation of vision 2030, the existing policies and laws as well as adapting good disaster preparedness mechanism.