Kenya: Dramatic Building Collapse Highlights Devastating Impact of Floods

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Intense rainfall has plagued Kenya for several weeks, resulting in a staggering death toll of at least 277 and significant damage to homes and infrastructure. On May 14th, 2024, a building collapsed in Nairobi, further underscoring the dire consequences of the ongoing floods. For many civil society organizations, these incidents serve as a stark reminder of the Kenyan authorities’ perceived incompetence in infrastructure management.

In Nairobi, a building collapse occurred on May 14, 2024, amidst the continuing aftermath of torrential rains. Additionally, a landslide occurred in the escarpments of Kimende, in Kiambu County, just north of the capital city. Fortunately, there have been no reported casualties in either incident thus far.

However, the Kenyan Red Cross teams remained at the scene in Kiambu, diligently searching through the debris amid concerns of individuals being trapped under the mud. The area has been cordoned off as a danger zone, with the nearby Kimende-Matathia road remaining impassable.

Fifty-eight other roads across the country have suffered damage due to the rains since the onset of the wet season. Among these routes are critical arteries like the Nakuru-Eldoret highway, which serves as a gateway to Rwanda and Uganda. “The poor maintenance of key infrastructure and drainage systems, coupled with disregard for environmental laws on floodplains, have contributed to this situation,” notes Timothy Njagi Njeru, an economist at Egerton University in Kenya, in a publication on The Conversation’s online platform.

According to a study by the Kenyan Institute of Public Policy Research published in 2021, repairs for roads alone during the 2018 floods cost the authorities $120 million, nearly a quarter of the previous year’s budget. The ongoing challenges posed by the floods underscore the urgent need for comprehensive infrastructure planning and disaster preparedness measures in Kenya.

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