Fear of mud, landslides grows in slums as El Niño approaches

Monday October 5 2015

People walk over a shallow drainage system at Gikomba in Rhonda, Nakuru County, on October 1, 2015. Nakuru County Governor Kinuthia Mbugua said that the county government would spend  more than Sh500 million to deal with the impact of the rains. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP

People walk over a shallow drainage system at Gikomba in Rhonda, Nakuru County, on October 1, 2015. Nakuru County Governor Kinuthia Mbugua said that the county government would spend more than Sh500 million to deal with the impact of the rains. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MORAA OBIRIA
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Thousands of Nakuru Town residents are in danger of being buried alive by mud and landslides during the El Niño rains, a report shows.

According to the county’s preliminary assessment, the most affected people would be those in lowlands, the lake basin and on highways.

At Kwa Rhonda, a slum in the lower parts on the Nakuru west, semi-permanent houses hang precariously on the banks of water paths between Gikomba and Posta locations.

Makeshift stalls have been erected on trenches and manholes at Gikomba Market.

El Niño rains are usually associated with destruction.

On Wednesday evening, the residents were shaken when rains caused flooding in some estates. A road in Kwa Rhonda was cut off from the rest of the town.

“Nakuru Town soil is volcanic and highly porous. When it rains, the soil loosens and can easily subside or move,” Mr Ben Oyaro, a county official, said.

IMPENDING RUNOFF
Property owners have begun building waterways to divert the impending runoff. During Wednesday’s rain, some houses were submerged.

“Storm water and debris from the market ends up in the houses since there is no trench to divert it,” a property owner who sought anonymity said.

Ms Maximillah Nasimiyu who lives on the Gikomba-Posta water path said she would stay on and wait for the rains. She said she was used to flooding during the short and long rains.

Ms Nasimiyu said she was ready for any outcome even as the weatherman warned of the effects of the rains that could extend to January.

“I have lived here for more than 20 years and have learnt to cope with floods,” she said.

Apart from Kwa Rhonda and Kaptembwa slums, Naivasha’s Suswa and Hell’s Gate, Ndabibi and Maai Mahiu as well as settlements adjacent to lakes Nakuru, Naivasha and Elementaita are among the areas Governor Kinuthia Mbugua identified as most likely to be hit bad.

“We  are observing these areas because of their history. Land and mudslides have hit them even during small amounts of rainfall,” the governor said.

He added that the county government would spend  more than Sh500 million to deal with the impact of the rains.

“We are opening up drainage and sewer lines to ensure easy flow of the water,” Mr Mbugua told journalists on Saturday after attending a forum on how to respond to the impact of El Niño rains.

The conference took place at Agricultural Development Training Centre, Soilo.