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Kenya MET Director apologizes for El Niño rains miscommunication

The Kenya Meteorological Department Director, David Gikungu, has Thursday apologized for miscommunication made over the ongoing El Niño rains.

“I want to point out as initially given in the weather forecast that we are experiencing El Niño in this short rain season. We do, however, apologize for the lack of communication or lack of communication because that was a big mistake,” he said.

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Gikungu further said that the Nation should continue prepping for the enhanced rainfall as a result of the El Niño phenomena that we are facing.

The Director’s public apology was followed by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s address as he updated Kenyans on the government’s plan to mitigate destruction of property and loss of human life.

DP Gachagua acknowledged the severe impact of the unrelenting heavy rains that have battered more than 19 counties across the country.

The government, in collaboration with various partners, is actively engaged in mitigating the crisis and providing relief to affected areas.

Expressing gratitude to the media for its role in raising awareness, Gachagua assured the public that the government is fully committed to addressing the challenges posed by the ongoing heavy rains.

The apology comes after, President William Ruto announced that Kenya will not experience El Nino as was predicted by scientists in the country.

Instead, he said that the October-November-December season will have short rains that will not necessarily cause devastating impacts to farmers.

However, the MET has been quite emphatic in confirming that the El Nino rains are already occurring and that this month the nation will witness the peak of the floods.

On his part, National Assembly leader of Minority Opiyo Wandayi termed the President’s sentiments as insensitive.

“The statement that Honourable Ruto made over El Nino was not only reckless but quite unfortunate because any sensible government must listen to its experts and more so those employed by taxpayers,” Wandayi said.

According to the Kenyan Red Cross, at least 15 people have died as a result of the floods caused by the torrential rains that have hit the country, cutting off roads, washing away dozens of houses and killing livestock.

During the previous El Niño episode (2019), severe flooding and massive landslides led to the destruction of property and essential infrastructure, crop and livestock losses, and increased epidemics, particularly of cholera, affecting more than 330,000 people in the country and resulting in the displacement of 160,000 people.

As Kenya is emerging from a drought emergency, described as the worst in 40 years, and experienced severe flooding during the last long rains season (March-May), the El Niño’s destructive effects represent a major threat to access to food, drinkable water and other basic needs.

The ASAL counties are at particular risk, with 2.8 million people suffering from acute food insecurity following back-to-back climatic shocks.

Wetter than usual conditions are also likely to result in epidemics, while 12,000 cases of cholera have already been reported.

Although the risk to communities living in flood-prone areas of the ASALs is particularly severe, the increase in rainfall corresponds to the usual short rains season and could support recovery to the prolonged drought season.

 

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