Natural Hazards and Climate Change in Kenya: Minimizing the Impacts on Vulnerable Communities Through Early Warning Systems
Oluoko-Odingo, Alice A
Wepukhulu, Daniel W
Mwadali, Ayub S
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Disasters are an important cause of impoverishment in Africa, and Kenya is 1 of 11 countries in the world most at risk of disaster-induced poverty. In 2011 alone, 106 million people around the world were affected by floods: the highest number of victims were located in the Horn of Africa, where Kenya is located. Hence, floods are one of the most frequent hydro-meteorological hazards, with droughts, affecting countries in the African Horn and resulting in heavy economic losses as well as loss of life. By incorporating vulnerable populations into the Early Warning Systems (EWS), and by focusing on protecting livelihoods, it is possible to mitigate impact from disasters. Current systems are in need of major improvements. Most developing countries need effective community-based early warning systems that focus on efficient dissemination of information. This chapter highlights possible ways to incorporate vulnerable groups within the EWS system, including participatory rural appraisal, the creation of community-level prevention and mitigation groups, improving infrastructure and planning, building links between climate experts and local populations, improving communication with local actors, and supporting local development. Some particularly promising solutions are emerging from Kenya, related to the use of technology for social media and crowd sourcing data. These new tools have the potential to significantly reduce disaster risks if they are correctly incorporated into early warning systems.