EXPLAINER: Why Mombasa is experiencing serious flooding


• Coastal cities are prone to flooding for several reasons.

• One notable factor would be the rising sea levels as a result of climate change. 

Mombasa flooding

Mombasa County has been experiencing floods following heavy rainfall that has been consistent for three days.

Houses have been submerged, people displaced and roads have been left impassable. 

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki had last week announced that a total of 60 Kenyans had died as a result of flood across the country. 

Since Friday, 10 people have died in Mombasa, Tana River, Kwale, and Kilifi counties. 

While addressing the media following the havoc, Mombasa Governor Abdullswamad Nassir dismissed reports of poor drainage system. 

"There are some areas that the entire villages are constructed on waterways and as it rains excessively there was no way for the water hence the flooding," he said. 

However, it is important to note that the flood levels are subsiding. 

So why is Mombasa flooding? 

Coastal cities are prone to flooding for several reasons. One notable factor would be the rising sea levels as a result of climate change. 

A publication by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions dubbed sea-level rise and global climate change states that the melting ice caps and glaciers add water to the oceans which causes rising sea levels. 

This makes the coastal areas more susceptible to flooding during high tides or storm events.

"This report finds that the vulnerability of a coastal area to sea-level rise varies according to the physical characteristics of the coastline, the population size and amount of development, and the responsiveness of land-use and infrastructure planning at the local level."

Just as the Mombasa governor had declared on waterways, the planning of the urban development could have also caused the flooding.

The buildings at the coast which have been erected along the outlets to the ocean blocked its passage. 

This led to an insufficient drainage system and impermeable surfaces like pavement. 

Some coastal areas have experienced subsidence and the gradual sinking of land due to human activities such as poor disposal of minerals which block the water paths making the areas prone to floods. 

Environmentalist Ronald Bulimu says addressing the challenges in the coastal region will require a combination of sustainable urban planning from all actors and well-maintained infrastructure. 

"I could attribute the issues in Mombasa to poor urban planning, there has not been good renovation at the coastal city, the drainage system that is there was the one constructed by the Arabs, and no government official has taken an initiative to look into these factors.

The natural causes cannot be avoided, but what can be handled should be looked at."  he said. 

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