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Why Kenya Floods Are More Damaging Now

GS-1 Mains 

Floods are natural but causing more damage due to human activities:

  • Increased Runoff:
    • Deforestation, livestock grazing, cultivation alter natural landscape.
    • Less water infiltration, more runoff.
    • East African Flood Model: Deforestation -> 20x higher flood peak.
    • Land degradation in 90% of Kenya’s northern drylands.
  • Urbanization and Loss of Buffer Zones:
    • Encroachment on floodplains and wetlands reduces natural storage.
    • Half of Kenya’s population projected to be urban by 2050.
    • Green spaces replaced by buildings, poor drainage in slums.
    • Rapid and severe flooding in urban areas.
  • Settlements in Flood-Prone Areas:
    • People build in low-lying areas and floodplains.
    • Inevitable inundation during floods.

Additional Factor:

  • Groundwater Depletion in Nairobi:
    • Excessive borehole use lowers water table.
    • Aquifer compression due to lower water table and building weight.
    • Ground subsidence creates low spots for floodwater to collect.

Minimizing Flood Risks in Kenya

Rural Areas:

  • Problem: Increased land use pressure leading to larger floods scouring natural watercourses.
  • Solution:
    • Protect riparian zones (riverbank areas) with natural vegetation.
    • Enforce existing laws to control settlements and livestock movement in these areas.

Urban Areas: (using Nairobi as an example)

  • Problems:
    • Corruption hinders proper urban planning.
    • Inadequate water, wastewater, and solid waste management infrastructure.
    • Lack of control over development in floodplains and riparian zones.
  • Solutions:
    • Each municipality needs:
      • Effective stormwater drainage network (pipes, channels) with regular maintenance.
      • Separate management of wastewater and solid waste.
    • Flood storage basins (difficult in Nairobi due to existing development).
    • Demarcate and protect riparian buffer zones by authorities.

Source : https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/africa/kenya-s-devastating-floods-expose-decades-of-poor-urban-planning-and-bad-land-management-95927



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