Kenyans have two months to ensure harvest are dried and stored before El Nino rains start pounding the country from October. Communities living in areas that are vulnerable to mudslide will also need to move even as the government steps up cholera vaccinations as well as stock up on malaria drugs to beat torrential rains that will pound the country starting October through to next year.
Chance of El Nino at 90 percent
The state and multilateral bodies have confirmed that the chances of the country experiencing El Nino rains are almost 90 percent. The heavy rains will start in October and extend into early 2024. Kenya Metrological Department has announced that the El Nino-Southern Oscillation
(ENSO) has transitioned from a neutral phase to El Nifio since March, which is often associated with heavy rains and floods during the October-November-December season in East Africa.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC) also warned that, the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), a phenomenon that causes heavy rains, is in a neutral phase, but this is set to change towards the October period.
The World Health Organization, which released the advisory, referred to global El Nifio forecasts that suggest heavy rains in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya from October through 2024.
Even as Kenya celebrates a bounty harvest after a period of prolonged drought, the country must now make haste to dry the produce to avoid post-harvest losses and store the yields with fields expected to be flooded by the deluge.
Destruction of infrastructure
The El Nino could mean extreme weather events such as flash floods, riverine floods, mudslides and land-slides affecting farmlands and food security as well as destroying infrastructure hence cutting access to some communities.
Lakes in the Kenya could swell bringing diseases such as cholera and malaria, while the flooding will also provide ideal conditions for mosquito breeding and the emergence of Rift Valley Fever and malaria later on in 2023.
WHO also said East Africa is already facing one of the worst cholera outbreaks in years, and one of the longest-ever recorded in the region.
Kenya is battling a cholera outbreak that has claimed 194 lives in less than a year prompting the government to roll out emergency vaccination across eight counties.
After prolonged drought sudden rains are spreading waterborne diseases like cholera with the country expecting torrential el nino rains later this year that is bound to aggravate the health concerns.
Increased water contamination
The Ministry of Health announced has started an Oral Cholera Vaccine (OCV) program that will commence on Thursday to Saturday 12th August following a reported 11872 cases and 194 deaths with some active cases from October last year to July 2023.
The program targets people over the age of one in eight counties with the inclusion of Machakos County prison and Special school as well as the Dadaab refugee camp
“Heavy rainfall and flooding, of-ten leading to increased water contamination, will likely exacerbate and further prolong this outbreak in many countries,” WHO said in ‘Public Health Situation Analysis.
The rain event is confirmed but its intensity is still unclear. Kenya’s previous experience with El Nifio in 1997 led to exceptionally heavy rainfall and devastating floods,
However, the El Ninio in 2015 had a higher index but resulted in lower rainfall. causing less significant impacts than expected.