Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Floods may sweep away Kenya's gains

Wachira Kang’aru in via the Daily Nation (Kenya): The expected heavy rainfall has the potential to wipe out at least 11 per cent of Kenya's wealth unless proper preventative measures are put in place. Among the key areas to be affected are roads, water supply systems and health due to a possible outbreak of water borne and related ailments.

The 11 per cent damage on the economy is the same as that which the 1997/98 El Nino rains caused to the country as contained in a World Bank Report titled Toward a Water-Secure Kenya. With the current Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimated at ($34,507 million) Sh2.6 trillion - 2008 World Bank Estimate - the loss could translate to at least Sh284.7 billion over and above what the government plans to spend on development expenditure this year.

"The immediate effect of the rain will be to suppress economic activities," economic analyst Robert Shaw says adding that the full effect on the economy will depend on how much rainfall will be received. "We are quite vulnerable even if we do not get as much rain as El Nino."

Poor people and those on the lower side of the middle class will be the worst hit with the report indicating that effects of the 1997 floods resulted in the number of those living below the poverty line increasing from 48 per cent in 1994 to 52 per cent in 2000 and worsening to 56 per cent by 2001. "The poor and marginal communities, both rural and urban are particularly vulnerable to floods and droughts due to their limited options and consequent habitation in marginal and vulnerable areas," the report says…

Catfish ponds in Kenya, USAID