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Responding to crisis: collaborative efforts flood disaster relief of Eastern Africa

02 May 2024

As briefly covered in the news, parts of Eastern Africa are being hit by floods caused by heavy rainfall. Unfortunately, this has already claimed many lives. This includes Tanzania and Kenya, where World Waternet, in collaboration with partner Embassy of the Earth, has been exploring ways to support the government's ambitious plans to clean up Nairobi rivers for quite some time. The water has now demonstrated that the problem is much larger than pollution alone. Large areas of informal settlements have been flooded, as well as newly built residential areas elsewhere in the city and, for example, the airport. Tens of thousands of people have lost their homes and possessions.

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Picture by Hansel ohioma ()

Challenges in Nairobi: a multi-faceted crisis

The government has established a Special Cabinet with a mandate to evacuate everyone in areas at risk, downstream from dams and riverbank zones. In the Thika Basin, where the Blue Deal program and the Njururi Initiative are ongoing, with many dams for drinking water and irrigation, there is considerable disruption, and a landslide has claimed several lives.

Government response and evacuation efforts

Several more weeks of heavy rains are anticipated across the country. In Nairobi, our partner Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) is doing what they can to remove any blockages in the sewage system. Our partner Water Resources Authority (WRA) is busy marking the flood line of various rivers in Nairobi and other affected areas, including the Tana Basin, where World Waternet is also active, and WRA is involved in evacuating people from these river zones. Dams are also being inspected; many dams are at full capacity, and the persistent rainfall also poses risks of dam breaches or severe flooding.

Community initiatives: the role of the Blue Angels

Over the past months, in addition to government agencies, we have also worked extensively with local community organisations in Nairobi—various groups, mostly comprised of young people, who have been dedicated to river restoration through waste management, park construction, etc. These groups are informally united as the Blue Angels and are crucial as first responders in the current crisis.


Long-term solutions and engagement with (inter)national authorities

World Waternet and Embassy of the Earth continue to engage with the national government to provide support for the long-term future of Nairobi. It is possible that during this crisis period, the deployment of the Dutch Disaster Risk Reduction and Surge Support (DRRS) may also be requested, for which we are coordinating with RVO and the Dutch embassy.

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Call to Action: providing assistance

The priority for now is to prevent the deadly consequences of the ongoing threat and provide emergency assistance and shelter to those affected. Through the network of the Blue Angels, who work directly with UN-HABITAT and many NGOs, we also try to contribute to this emergency assistance on a small scale.

If you personally wish to contribute, you can do so via a Tikkie () to our Resident Project Manager Peter de Koning, who ensures that local organizations can provide the necessary assistance. He is also available for any questions or comments (WhatsApp: +31629635301).