Kenya: Riverine Floods - Early Action Protocol summary (EAP2021KE01)


The IFRC Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) has approved a total allocation of CHF 332, 278 CHF from its Forecast based Action (FbA) mechanism for the Kenya Red Cross Society. The approved amount consists of an immediate allocation of CHF 139, 580 for readiness and pre-positioning and CHF 192,698 automatically allocated to implement early actions once the defined triggers are met.

The FbA by the DREF is a Forecast-based Financing funding mechanism managed by the DREF. Allocations for the FbA by the DREF are made from a separate financial component of the DREF (MDR00004) and do not affect the reserves of the DREF appeal code MDR00001. Unearmarked contributions to the FbA by the DREF are encouraged to guarantee enough funding is available for the Early Action Protocols being developed.


Kenya is a country in Eastern Africa, bordered by South Sudan to the northwest, Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the east, Uganda to the west, Tanzania to the south, and the Indian Ocean to the southeast. It has a surface area of 580,367 km², and a population of 47.6 million people according to the 2019 census.

Kenya’s geography and climate varies widely across the country, from regions of fertile agricultural lands and temperate climates in the western and rift valley counties, to dry and less fertile arid and semi-arid lands, to absolute deserts. The climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate inland to arid in the north and northeast parts of the country. Kenya experiences two rainy seasons, namely the long rains season from March-AprilMay, and the short rains season from October-November-December. The hottest period is February and March, leading into the season of the long rains, and the coldest is in July, until mid-August.

Climate change is increasingly impacting the natural patterns of rainfall and temperatures in Kenya, leading to increased climate variability and more extreme weather events. The drought cycle has been reduced from every ten years to being an annual event, that last longer. Floods are also becoming increasingly frequent, and coastal communities are already experiencing sea-level rise. Droughts and floods are particularly severe in the hot and dry conditions of the ASALs. Temperatures are projected to increase with up to 2.5°C by 2050.

Kenya is the 7th most affected country globally by extreme weather events according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2020 report. The country experiences a range of disasters with devastating consequences, the most frequently experienced being droughts, floods, epidemics, and landslides. Out of these four, flood events account for 48% of all disasters recorded, 6% of people affected and 83% of total cost of damage. While drought has more devastating impacts, this hazard is addressed in another Early Action Protocol. Floods are a recurring risk that pose a threat in particular to people living in lowland, highland and urban areas. The types of floods experienced in Kenya include flash floods, river floods, coastal floods and floods due to heavy rains. All these types of floods were considered important during discussions with the National FbF Technical Working Group (TWG). However, there are currently no operational forecasts for flash and coastal floods in Kenya. Riverine floods can take several days or weeks to develop and are potentially predictable (ODI, 2019). In this regard, the FbF system developed in this EAP will focus on triggers and early actions to address impacts due to riverine floods.

This EAP has been designed and will be implemented by several organizations including National Disaster Operation Centre (NDOC), National Disaster Management Unit (NDMU), National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD), Water Resources Authority (WRA), FEWSNET, Social Protection Directorate, Ministry of Health, World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing (DRSRS), Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), St. Johns Ambulance, State Department of and Crop Development. Everyone involved in this plan has a key role during the preparation and activation of the Forecast-based Financing mechanism.

In Kenya, a National Technical Working Group (TWG) was established to develop the FbF system. The TWG is chaired by the NDOC and the secretariat is the KRCS. Members of the TWG contributed to developing this FbF system for floods. Various stakeholders have expressed commitment towards the activation and implementation of the EAP and these include: NDOC, KMD, WRA, FAO, St. Johns Ambulance, FEWSNET, KENGEN, WFP and National Social Protection Secretariat. Commitments include Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Letters of Commitment as well as being official members of the TWG, some organisations have made verbal commitment and will follow up with written commitment when the EAP is ready e.g., FAO.

Analysis for this EAP was done through creating a database of flood impacts, combining data from various reports and assessments as well as historical satellite imagery. From the database created, the frequency of flood events has been increasing between 2001 and 2020. More than 50 flood events across the country were recorded in 2013, 2015, 2018 and 2020. The observed rise in flood frequency, together with the projection that climate change will increase in future the frequency and intensity of extreme events, including floods, in the East African region (IPCC, 2014), makes floods a big concern in Kenya. The areas that have been most affected by floods between 2001-2020 are within the Nzoia, Tana and Athi basins, which will be the focus area for this initial EAP.

The National FbF TWG members reviewed the impacts on floods based on historical trends and also through their own experience during a flood response. The top five priority impacts of floods which will be addressed in this EAP include:

  1. Deaths and people injured

  2. Disruption/ inaccessibility of health services

  3. Destruction or damage to houses leading to displacement of people

  4. Outbreak of waterborne diseases affecting people

  5. Outbreak of vector borne diseases affecting livestock

The output of the FbF process is an Early Action Protocol (EAP) for Kenya to be used as a tool to guide the timely and effective implementation of early actions based on specific weather or climate forecasts predicting flooding events that if they materialize and no proper actions are in place have a high likelihood of generating a humanitarian crisis. These crises could be avoided or minimized by the joint and timely action of the Government of Kenya, communities at risk, stakeholders including the UN Agencies and Development Partners and the Kenya Red Cross Society.