A water regulatory body has issued a warning in anticipation of upcoming El Nino rains set to hit various regions of the country later this month. The Water Resources Authority (WRA) has called upon Kenyan citizens to strictly adhere to safety guidelines in order to prevent potential hazards.
Due to the anticipated rise in water levels and the likelihood of flash floods, the WRA has advised the public to identify and utilize safe evacuation routes to higher ground in case of flooding. They have also emphasized the need for caution around open channels and manholes during flooding.
Communities residing downstream of dams have been urged to remain vigilant and follow alerts from both authorities and dam owners and operators. The agency’s CEO has emphasized the importance of approaching river crossings, whether on foot or in vehicles, with extreme caution.
Additionally, dam owners and operators have been counseled to establish operation plans outlining procedures for notifying and safeguarding downstream residents, infrastructure, and the environment from planned or accidental dam releases. It is also crucial for them to ensure that spillways are well-maintained and free from obstructions to achieve their maximum design spill capacity. Regular dam safety inspections and assessments are strongly recommended when dams are at full capacity.
The Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) has forecasted above-average rainfall for the period from October to December 2023. This rainfall is expected to be fairly distributed in some regions and heavily concentrated in others, both in terms of timing and location. The heavy rainfall may lead to significant increases in river water levels, potentially causing flooding in low-lying areas near rivers.
Specific areas at risk of flooding include lower Nyando, lower Nzoia, lower Sondu, lower Gucha Migori, shoreline streams of the Lake Victoria basin, lower Perkerra, Enkare Narok River at Rumuruti, Lower Tana River at Garissa, Hola, and Garsen. Additional areas of concern include the Laggas in the Mid Tana basin (Kitui and Makueni Counties) and the Ewaso Ng’iro North basin (Wajir and Mandera Counties). Flash floods resulting from excessive runoff may also occur, particularly in urban areas such as Nairobi City, Narok, Isiolo, Wajir, and Mandera towns.
The filling of dams with a high risk of overflowing and causing downstream flooding is expected to occur in major dams, including Bathi, Chemeron, Chemususu, Chinga, Ellegirini, Kakuzi, Gitaru, Kamburu, Klambere, Kindaruma, Kiboko, Kikoneni, Kirandich, Kiserian, Maruba, Mkurumudzi (BTL), Mkurumudzi (KISCOL), Moiben, Mulima, Muoni, Radat, Ruiru, Sasumua, Sondu Miriu, Thiba, Thika/Ndakaini, Tindress, and Turkwel dams.