Many people are feared to have died yesterday as flash floods swept through the town of Narok after the Ewaso Nyiro River in Kenya broke its banks and in a matter of minutes inundated the town center and outlying areas. Narok is the springboard to the world famous Masai Mara when traveling there by road, and efforts are underway to establish if any foreign tourists were affected by this massive disaster. It is a regular rest stop for tourists when their vehicles stop to refuel, allowing them time to buy souvenirs or have a snack and a cold drink and equally, backpackers use the overland buses to reach the area.
Environmental sources were swift to blame the tragedy on the relentless cutting of trees in one of Kenya’s most important water towers, the Mau Forest, and as recently as two weeks ago, a delegation from the Kenya Water Tower Agency was on site to review the situation. The Mau Forest was invaded during the Moi era and a relentless assault on the forest started, cutting trees for timber, to burn charcoal, and make space for land to till. Subsequent governments have failed to comprehensively deal with the issue until now.
Isaac Kalua, in fact, following his visit, posted several pictures on his Facebook page showing an area bare of trees,
and it is this wanton destruction which in the opinion of experts now led to the disaster as absorption capacity of what is left of the forest has considerably reduced, causing the flash floods.
It is understood that the Kenya Red Cross disaster response team has arrived from Nairobi in Narok to begin assisting those who lost their entire possessions in the flood and lead the recovery effort for those who perished in the raging waters. The Kenya Tourism Federations’s emergency response center is also monitoring the situation vis-a-vis road safaris into and out of the Masai Mara. It is hoped that by tomorrow, information can be obtained about the safety of safari driver guides and their tourists who were in the area at the time when the floods struck.
Appeals have been made to Kenyans and well-wishers from abroad to donate to the Kenya Red Cross in either cash or in-kind to support the relief effort and aid the recovery mission.