- The United Nations is helping Kenya prepare to mitigate the impact of potentially lethal torrential rains anticipated for the last three months of the year due to the El Niño weather pattern.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Kenya’s ministry of state for Special Programmes will co-chair a consultative workshop on 15 September to draw up contingency plans in the face of El Niño, a periodic warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean that can produce droughts in some parts of the world and flooding in others.
“Previous experiences of El Niño rainfall in Kenya in 1997/8 and torrential rains in 2002/3, 2006 and 2008 resulted in the disruption of livelihoods, population displacement, loss of property and assets, damage to infrastructure and death of people and livestock,” OCHA said.
In its most recent update on the subject, the UN World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) stated that the expectation is for El Niño conditions to very likely prevail through the remainder of 2009 and into the first quarter of 2010.
Meanwhile, an estimated 48,000 people have been uprooted by severe flooding in Burkina Faso are sheltering in temporary accommodation such as schools, churches and public buildings while another 40,000 are living with host families.
A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team that went to Burkina Faso in the wake of the recent flooding also found that facilities in many of the buildings in which people are taking shelter, especially sanitation, are under strain.
OCHA said yesterday that a flash appeal is being finalised for the emergency in Burkina Faso, which is among the countries hardest hit by the deadly floods across West Africa that have affected 600,000 people in the region, claimed nearly 160 lives and destroyed crops and infrastructure.
There has been damage in Burkina Faso to the Central University Hospital, bridges, dams, roads, schools and agricultural land. The areas most affected are the capital, Ouagadougou, and surrounding region.
A survey conducted last week by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) identified the need to support the many small farmers affected by the floods with technical and livelihood support.
UN humanitarian agencies and their partners are providing emergency relief, including food, medical supplies, shelter material, hygiene kits and disinfection materials to those affected.
Floods caused by torrential rainfall in West Africa have also affected Sierra Leone Senegal, Ghana, Niger and Sierra Leone.
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