Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kenya should heed the weatherman's warnings about El Nino rains via the Business Daily (Nairobi): Just as many Kenyans are suffering the consequences of persistent dry weather conditions in most parts of the country, the weatherman is warning of looming torrential rains associated with the El Nino weather phenomenon.

…It is not surprising that for many Kenyans, trapped in the current hardships of drought and starvation torrential rains promise to be the answer to the country's problems. It cannot be denied that heavy rains will bring to an abrupt close the ongoing costly rationing of power and water besides bringing down the cost of key food staples such as vegetables that have been driving up headline inflation in recent months.

But such gains should not blind anyone, especially policy makers, to the destruction that will come with El Nino rains. One only needs to look back at the damage that such torrential rains left the country in the last time they hit Kenya in the late 1990s.

Thousands of Kenyans lost property in ensuing floods in unexpected places such the usually dry Garissa and Tana River districts besides the usually vulnerable places such as Busia District's Budalangi and Kano Plains on the shores of Lake Victoria. Kenya also suffered massive infrastructure destruction after the rains swept away large sections of bitumen and loose surface roads rendering many parts of the country inaccessible.

And just as drought is forcing Treasury to reorganize its budget to find the billions of shillings it needs for the massive relief operation, the El Nino rains of the 1990s left millions of Kenyans in camps for the internally displaced and in need of relief assistance….

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