Since the onset of the March-May 2020 long rains and flash floods have been reported in many parts of Kenya. The impacts of climate change, deforestation and land degradation could intensify droughts and floods. As a result, far-reaching consequences are brought on communities, ecosystems, food security and infrastructure.
Deadly floods hit Kenya
More than two hundred people have died, roads have been cut, bridges have been destroyed, access to health facilities is becoming a challenge, and thousands of Kenyans have been forced to flee flooding.
In Western Kenya, many people are still missing as heavy rain continues to contribute to the devastating flooding. More than 1,800 families have been left without shelter after heavy rainfall triggered flooding in parts of Western Kenya as the River Nzoia burst its banks. In Narok along the Mara River, one of our partner’s tree nurseries was not spared. The tree seedlings were swept away by the floods as Mara Training Centre prepared to transplant them.
In Naivasha, Nakuru County, more than 1,700 people have been displaced as the Lake Naivasha water level rose. If unchecked, the possibility of waterborne diseases will spread very soon.
“Deforestation and land degradation are
the major causes of the increased flooding”
There is now a growing consensus that deforestation, land degradation, and unchecked development in areas that naturally absorb excess water, are the major causes of the increased frequency of flooding events in Kenya today.
Forests are vital in absorbing greenhouse gases, and tropical deforestation is estimated to contribute more than 10% of global emissions. It is a fact that forests can soak up excess rainwater, preventing run-off and damage from flooding. Without trees, rain runs off the land and erodes the soil into rivers and streams, raising the water level. In addition to planting trees in the forests, more trees should be planted on farms, along the rivers and in other public lands so that Kenya can attain over 10% tree cover by 2022*.
Working with local communities to plant
the right trees at the right place
International Tree Foundation calls for more and more people to participate in the reforestation of our highlands and help tackle flooding. ITF’s programme in Kenya involves planting trees that provide food and income as well as improved soil and water quality for communities. Our sustainable approach to community forestry simultaneously addresses poverty and environmental issues such as habitat restoration.
Working closely with local communities, ITF encourages groups to establish tree nurseries and to plant the right trees at the right place.
*Constitution of Kenya