Impact of Floods on Kenyan Women: A Critical Review of Media Coverage, Institutional Response and Opportunities for Gender Responsive Mitigation
Keywords:Natural Disaster, Flooding, flood-related vulnerability of women, Western Kenya.
AbstractNatural disasters pose serious threat to human life and livelihoods. Kenya is perennially exposed to floods, landslides and drought due to effects of climate change. Flooding is particularly rampant in Western Kenya and women are disproportionately affected due the important roles they play in rural economies particularly in agriculture, the informal sector as well as household survival. The media is always at hand to capture the details of the catastrophe with press reports highlighting the specific experiences of individuals, and the prevailing conditions of the affected villages including: destruction of shelter, displacement and loss of livelihoods. Similarly, Government and Non–Governmental agencies move into the affected communities to provide the much-needed support. This study reviews existing institutional literature and media coverage reports to examine the specific flood related vulnerabilities among women in Western Kenya in order to identify existing gaps.Women experience specific difficulties in performing their traditional family roles, and are often unable to meet their personal hygiene and sanitation needs but are largely missing from the decision forums where Disaster Risk Reduction is discussed leading to lack of prioritization of their specific needs. The lessons drawn from this study should inform gender responsive mitigation efforts and resilience capacity building.