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County forms Committee to deal with El-Nino

The national and county governments in Migori have formed a technical committee to work on measures that would allow full protection from the effects of the anticipated heavy rains and ensure a good environment.

The county disaster risk management committee, to be chaired by the County Commissioner and area Governor as Co-chair will also have tentacle committees that will trickle down to the grassroots, chaired by deputy commissioners at sub-county levels, assistant county commissioners at ward levels, and chiefs and assistant chiefs at location and sub-location levels, respectively.

During the first forum of the committee held in Migori town this week, heads of national and county government departments and agencies and senior officials from the interior ministry crafted a multi-agency technical team to spearhead the war on protecting the environment and the local people from the looming adverse weather conditions across the country.

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema), the Red Cross, and the Office of Environment and Disaster Management would lead key departments such as public health, national police, and non-governmental organisations in coming up with pragmatic measures for up-to-date steps to ensure security and better health for the local population.

County Commissioner David Gitonga, who chaired the forum, said that although the county government also runs a full-fledged ministry dealing with environmental issues and risk management, the effort by the national government through a recent presidential decree on the looming heavy rainstorm and the general environment would give the war against floods, landslides, pollution, deforestation, and plastic menace a boost it deserves.

He said the effort would focus seriously on the protection of people in flood-prone areas, water sources, and pollution from the ever-increasing mining and leaching activities, mainly in the Nyatike, Rongo, and Kuria regions.

The environmental protection endeavour must be geared towards moving people from lowlands to higher places, protecting river banks to curb excess water spillover, clearing blocked drainages, and ultimately achieving the 10 per cent tree cover target that has remained elusive for years due to the wanton destruction of forests for wood fuel, charcoal, and timber in the area.

Ecosystem conservator Samuel Wakiaga said the region was still performing very poorly in increasing forest cover compared to the high demand for timber and wood fuel for domestic use and fire-tobacco crop drying kilns.

Lake Victoria, the forum said, was in great danger of being declared totally impure following the highly toxic discharges from rivers Migori and Kuja that have also become dumping points for raw sewer from thousands of homes, hotels, and business joints along their banks as they head down to the lake.

The two rivers are also not spared by the reckless behaviours of the jua-kali artisans and motor vehicle garage owners in nearby local towns and markets who spill hundreds of litres of used oils into their waters, which is a great danger to the aquatic life in Lake Victoria.

The forum regretted that a deluge of plastic containers that has hit major urban areas could pose heavy effects on the lives of people during the El Nino rains.

The plastic containers were described as a stumbling block to the free flow of run-off water and would be finding their way into the rivers and eventually to Lake Victoria, thus causing heavy floods and pollution.

By George Agimba

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