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Kenya braces for El Niño - and the bill

Monday, October 05, 2015 - 01:30

Kenyan authorities say they need 15 billion shillings (144 million US dollars) to prepare for heavy rains that could devastate its farming. As David Pollard reports, the El Niño weather phenomenon is the likely culprit - and not for the first time.

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==PLEASE NOTE EDIT CONTAINS 4:3 MATERIAL== Kenya hopes for growth of five per cent or above this year. But drought has hit its farming - vegetable exports down over 3 per cent in July. Now the fear is of rain. Floods like these in April and May caused devastation. And the country still remembers 1997 - when rains cost an estimated 670 million dollars of damage. Three hundred lives were lost. The culprit: El Niño. The weather-altering phenomenon that starts in the Pacific Ocean is expected to peak between October and January. And could be one of the strongest on record. Farmer Douglas Musyoka says he's bracing for it. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DOUGLAS MUSYOKA, FARMER SAYING: "We as a country, we need first of all to be prepared. Personally I am prepared, I have already prepared my 30 acres piece of land in Ukambani." There's an extra risk to livestock. Officials have warned that Rift Valley Fever could also take hold - a mosquito-borne viral disease affecting cattle and domestic animals. As for towns and cities: they have their own concerns, according to Kenya's met office. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PETER AMBENJE, DEPUTY DIRECTOR KENYA METEOROLOGICAL DEPARTMENT SAYING: "In the urban areas because of too much tarmac, most of the water just goes as surface run off and therefore unless the drainage systems are opened up we find that there are flash floods in quite a number of areas." Work is going on to improve drainage. But officials say extra food, shelter and medicine may also be needed. Plus emergency repairs to roads, schools and other infrastructure. The total bill from the El Niño rains expected to top at least 140 million US dollars.

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Kenya braces for El Niño - and the bill

Monday, October 05, 2015 - 01:30