Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Rains and Floods

Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, DR Congo... All countries in East Africa that have been badly affected by the failing rains for the last six seasons. Drought has caused serious problems, crops have been depleted, hunger and poverty have increased.

Now, at last, the rains have come. Helped by el Nino, they are heavier than they have been for years. That's good, right?

Well, no. Not entirely. Not if you're one of the 22 people who have been killed in Kenya alone since Christmas, due to the floods that the sudden rains have brought. Not if you're one of the people whose homes have been washed away by the deluge. In rural areas, many homes are made of mud. They are solid enough to stand for an average twenty years, provide shelter from the elements and withstand the normal amounts of rain that can be expected to fall. But they can't withstand the heavy rains they've been subjected to, or the flooding.

Nor can some of the homes in the slums of Nairobi. In Kibera slum, home to over one million people, dozens of houses have been washed away. The houses are made of wood and corrugated metal, and they're built so close together, they're almost on top of one another. Against the forces of nature, they stand no chance.
Our picture shows dwellings in a Nairobi slum. They're typical of the homes found there.

Is it a cyclical weather pattern? Or climate change? Who knows? But then, to the people of East Africa, cause is not their greater concern right now. Effect is.

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