Mombasa draws up master plan to combat worsening flooding
By Anthony Langat
MOMBASA, Kenya, June 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Saumu Juma 25, a mother of two, was conducting morning prayers in her mud-walled home when her iron-sheet roof started caving in.
She rushed to protect her sleeping children, injuring her back, ribs and head as the roof collapsed and floodwater swept into her small house.
Her son and daughter survived, after being momentarily buried in mud - but other families weren't so lucky. Two other people in nearby Kalahari slum died in the flash floods that destroyed several homes that night.
Flooding is nothing new in Mombasa County, on Kenya's coast. Some areas are inundated each year, and the region has seen big floods every few decades, including most recently in 1997.
But this year's floods were stronger than usual, something residents and environmental scientists attribute to a rise in urban populations - and to changing weather patterns.
"This year's flooding is worse as compared to previous years and this is because of development in Mombasa," said Mohammed Rajab, a programme coordinator for the Red Cross Society in Mombasa County.
But Francis Thoya, the Mombasa County Minister for Land and Housing, says shifting weather patterns are the bigger problem.
"Climate change is here and, in preparing for any major disaster, the main thing that we are factoring in is climate change. In fact, us who are in low-lying areas are going to be affected more, this is for sure," Thoya said. Continued...