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Stakeholders develop El-Nino preparedness plan

The County Government of Turkana and its Development Partners have jointly identified 15 wards out of 30, that are at risk of flash floods. According to the Kenya Meteorological Department forecast in August 2023, the area would receive enhanced rainfall during the October-November-December season this year.

The wards listed to be prone to floods are: Lokichoggio, Nanam, Lopur, Kakuma, Letea (Turkana West), Lapur (Turkana North), Kang’atotha, Township, Kanamkemer, and Kerio Delta (Turkana Central). Katilu, Kaputir, Lobokat (Turkana South), Kapedo/Napeitom, and Lokori/Kachodin in Turkana East.

In concerted efforts to avert any emergency arising from the effects of El Nino,  government officials drawn from various critical sectors are meeting at Lokichar, Turkana South, for six days to strategically develop a preparedness plan that will support a participatory scenario (PSP) and Multi-Hazard El-Nino Contingency Plannings that will be ready on Wednesday this week.

Participatory Scenario Planning (PSP) is a valuable knowledge-sharing platform where stakeholders meet to interpret and discuss climate forecasts and adaptation actions within the context of climate information for preparedness purposes.

PSP is achieved by participants considering climatic probabilities (uncertainty in the forecast), assessing their likely hazards, risks, opportunities, and impacts, and developing scenarios based on the assessment.

In Turkana County, PSP is always done before the onset of every rainy season: March, April, May (MAM), June, July, August (JJA), and October, November, and December (OND).

The Multi-Hazard El-Nino Contingency Plan meeting comes after the County Steering Group (CSG) deliberated and resolved in August 2023 that a preparedness plan needed to be developed and made available to support in response to the El-Nino emergency that is anticipated to onset on the 3rd to 4th week of October 2023 and possible cessation on the 4th week of December 2023.

During the meeting, County Director for Kenya Meteorological Services, Francis Muinda, said Turkana is expected to receive occasional rainfall during the season.

“Incidences of the occurrence of flash floods and riverine floods are likely to occur in flood-prone areas. And most of the Wards are expected to get enhanced rains (above normal rains),” said Muinda.

He further added that the rainfall difference displays an increase of 20 to 50mm of rain in several areas of the entire county.

Earlier in the day, the team found time to interact with opinion elders seated under the “tree of men ” on Indigenous Traditional Knowledge (ITK) on rain forecasts in the OND season.

At the time, the elders were interpreting the goat’s intestine to give information on local forecasts for the anticipated El Nino rains in the county. The interactive session between the elders and the government officials was to find convergence between the ITK and the conventional forecast.

Regarding convergence, the following was agreed upon as an integrated forecast during the OND: there was enhanced rainfall above normal; the two rivers (Turkwell and Kerio) and dams would be swollen as a result of floods; the onset would be on the 3rd to 4th week of October 2023; and the distribution of rainfall to all sub-counties will be from poor to fair. And there will be occurrences of human and livestock diseases.

The six-day planning meeting is organised by the Turkana National Drought Management Authority and supported by USAID Nawiri, Concern WorldWide, and Steve Juma (Turkana South Assistant County Commissioner), Jacob Ekaran (Asst. Director Resilience, NDMA), and John Lokoli (Turkana South Sub-County Administrator) spoke during the planning meeting.

Directors on Livestock Development, Agriculture, Peace and Conflict Management, Disaster Management, Environment and Climate Change, Economic Planning, Fisheries, Roads, and staff from NDMA, Leah Muron (USAID Nawiri) and Bonface Okita (ASDP II), were present.

By Peter Gitonga

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