Flood management and climate change adaptation in Kibera Informal Settlements: the case of Silanga village
Wamuchiru, Elizabeth Kanini
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A warmer climate coupled with increased climate variability such as EI Nino will significantly increase the risk of floods in poor countries in the developing world (IPCC, 2007). As rains become heavier, streams, rivers, and lakes overflow, increasing the flood risk of settlements located along the riparian land. Heavy downpours as experienced across the country recently led to loss of lives and properties and damage of critical infrastructure like roads, bridges, sewer and solid waste systems, triggering sewage overflows that spread into local waters. These are but some of the effects of flooding. This study looked into the flooding issues and climate change adaptation with specific focus on the urban informal settlements that are considered as the most vulnerable communities to the effects of climate change and flooding. The area of study was Kibera informal settlement located in Nairobi; Kenya. A detailed study was conducted in Silanga, which is one of the fourteen villages forming the Kibera slums. Floods become a danger to this village when its populations move into areas that are prone to periodic flooding. These areas called flood plains are often along rivers. Development in flood plains has increased both the loss of life and property damage in the infonnal settlements of Silanga, with the main sources being the Ng'ong River, Gatwekera stream and the Nairobi dam which are adjacent to the settlement. The study addresses the link between flooding and climate change adaptation while emphasizing the role of urban planning in promoting the adaptive capacity of the urban informal settlements. The study has brought out the importance of strengthening the different actors in urban flood management and formulation of policies in reference to flood management for the urban informal settlements. The study was undertaken through a research methodology that employed both primary and secondary data collection. Primary data collection was conducted through filling in of household questionnaires, interviewing of key informants, expert observation and ethnography. The target population for primary data featured the households in Silanga Village, key informants from sampled civil societies and relevant government institutions dealing with flood management. Secondary data collection was based on previous research on climate change adaptation and flood management fur the urban informal settlements through literature review. The study established the vulnembility status of the people living in the urban informal settlements in reganl to flooding and climate change. The local residents in the Silanga informal settlements often attempt to mitigate some of the dangers of living in the flood plain which has exposed them to physical, economic, social, and environmental vulnerability. This was manifested through use of mechanisms such as: compacted sand bags, unblocking of drainage channels and period during flooding. These strategies as discussed in the study report are considered as which need to be upgraded and more sustainable solutions to be offered in the framework recommended in the study proposes subsequent strengthening of the viable existing mechanisms such as conducting regular cleaning exercises, proper waste disposal and management, rehabilitation of the Ng'ong River and Nairobi darn, besides proposing new ways of managing floods and adapting to climate change such as introduction of climate proof housing units. The role of planning has been applied in corning up with a land use plan which restricts development into the riparian zones where flooding occurs regularly along Ng'ong river and the Nairobi darn for Kibera residents. An implementation matrix was developed to bring all the stakeholders required to manage floods together in order to build resilience of the urban 'informal settlements to flooding and climate change.