Responding to crisis: collaborative efforts for flood disaster relief in Eastern Africa

Parts of Eastern Africa are being hit by floods caused by heavy rainfall. Unfortunately, this has already claimed many lives. This includes Kenya, where the Blue Deal has a partnership.

Picture by Hansel Ohioma

Blue Deal Kenya, together 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.

Government response and evacuation efforts

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 programme 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.

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 the Blue Deal 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: 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

The Blue Deal continues 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.