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No empty threats, El Niño rains to start this week

Heavy rains and possible flooding will start in Nairobi this week as much talked about El Niño kicks in.

Nairobi has yet to see any rain, unlike other parts of the country, but the Meteorological Department has warned city residents to brace themselves for heavy downpours beginning this week.

“In our statement last month, we said Nairobi would begin experiencing the rains in the second week of October and western at the beginning of the month. People should not doubt us. Right now it is raining in the western parts of the country,” the department’s deputy director, Mr Ayub Shaka said in an interview.

The weatherman said its predictions were correct and should not be ignored, no matter the day-to-day weather conditions.

The government on Sunday set up a multi-agency team to coordinate how the country will respond to emergencies caused by the extreme weather expected to hit various regions.

The team has advised the public to minimise travel for the duration of the heavy rains and take other precautions to prevent outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and malaria.

In anticipation of the destruction that might be caused by the rains, the national government has set aside Sh5 billion from its contingency fund and has also asked counties to set aside some money from their budgets to mitigate against the effects of the heavy rains.

The money will be used to repair roads and rehabilitate other destroyed infrastructure, including electricity lines.

“We received a strong signal of the El Niño rains. We do not want to compare its expected intensity with what happened before but we got a strong signal,” said Mr Shaka.

Deputy President William Ruto chaired a disaster preparedness meeting last month and said that other than the money set aside, about 70,000 National Youth Service personnel would be available to help in recovery and evacuation, should the need arise.

Governors have protested that the government has not fully involved them in the preparations.