Prepare for El Nino and mitigate risks
Experts have warned that El Nino rains can start any time this month, and it’s only imperative that both the national and county governments prepare for possible emergencies and ensure the public is not exposed to unmitigated risks.
It is commendable that counties have already started clearing drainage systems in anticipation of the rains but they must also go far enough to ensure waterways are cleared and families living in flood-prone areas are educated about the necessity of being evacuated in good time should need arise.
In the past, governments have failed to take adequate advance measures to mitigate against climate disasters. They also failed to set aside money for such emergencies. These mistakes should not be repeated this time around since the weatherman has given sufficient notice.
As a rule, the Treasury ought to set aside money in the Budget for disaster preparedness rather than rush to divert budgets from other votes when emergencies arise.
As government officials have noted, there is also need to harmonise various disaster preparedness budgets to prevent duplication of roles and to ensure effective and proactive spending for maximum effect. The most important consideration, when all is said and done, is to ensure that no lives are lost.
One way to do this is by ensuring that there are sufficient drugs in public hospitals to meet emerging diseases associated with El Nino, such as spikes in malaria and flu.
It is worth noting that organisations like the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority has assured counties that they have sufficient stocks of critical medicines and that they have stocked their regional warehouses ready to respond at short notice.
The ball is now in the court of counties to ensure that they place their orders in good time to save lives and respond to illnesses in good time.
It is also important to map out high risk areas for targeted interventions now and in the future. Agencies such as the Kenya Bureau of Statistics should also use this opportunity to gather data that can be used in future to improve interventions.
The government also needs to educate the public on the dangers of building along waterways as this is a common problem that will expose many to risks of flooding in residential areas, illness and death arising from poor planning.