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Kenya confronts floods

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 11- Kenya has set aside Sh4.5 billion to assist those affected by floods following the on-going El Nino rains.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday chaired a Cabinet Committee meeting on the El Nino floods at the Treasury, where he directed the Finance Ministry to immediately release the allocated funds.

“Of this amount, Sh1.5 billion will be reallocated from existing drought, security and Kazi Kwa Vijana provisions while Treasury is to source for the balance,” read a statement from the PM`s office.

The Prime Minister said the operation must begin this week and another meeting is to take place next week to review progress. He asked the officers involved in the operation to be proactive and accountable.

The PM said there are projections that the rains are likely to continue till month-end and asked responsible officers to plan beyond the current rains and the areas currently affected.

The money is to be spent on resettlement of about 60,000 people, provision of food and health and nutrition services. Other projects include repair of roads, river in-takes and river crossings as well as provision of water bowsers, water tanks and water treatment chemicals among other areas.

Ministries participating in the operation include Water, Roads, Health Services and Public Health, Youth Affairs, Provincial Administration, Special Programmes, Local Government, Agriculture, Northern Kenya and other Arid Areas and Forestry and Wildlife.

Days of heavy rainfall in Kenya have left 35 people dead due to flooding, according to statistics released by the Kenya Red Cross. More than 30,000 people have lost their homes.

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Especially hard hit has been the region around Lake Turkana, which is normally semi-arid. The Kerio River overflowed its banks, washing away several villages.

Many herders have lost their livelihoods after much of their livestock drowned in the flooding.

Additionally, washed-out bridges and roads have made it difficult for assistance to reach those affected by the floods. Kenya’s Meteorological Service has warned of continued rainfall through January, bringing with it more floods.

Meteorologists blame the El Nino weather phenomenon for making the region’s rainy season, which normally occurs in October and November, stretch into the winter.

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