The Nairobi Metropolitan Flood Woes

Linah Amondi . 1 month ago


Nairobi Floods

The Nairobi Metropolitan Flood Woes

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Kenya is currently grappling with the impacts of one of its heaviest El Nino seasons in 18 years, with Nairobi and its environs being one of the most affected areas.

As a capital city, one would assume near perfection regarding infrastructure, amenities, planning, and regulations in Kenya’s HQ, Nairobi. True to that, Nairobi is one of the best cities in Africa owing to its vibrant real estate and hospitality market. It is also East Africa’s renowned business hub and the only city with a national park globally, boosting its local and international tourism sector. However, Kenya is currently grappling with the impacts of one of its heaviest El Nino seasons in 18 years. Nairobi and its environs are one of the most affected areas, as the flash floods expose one of its flaws. 

Kenya is not the only country affected in the region as Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, Uganda’s Kampala, and, Burundi’s Bujumbura, are also grappling with the impacts of the catastrophe, given East Africa’s vulnerability to climate change. Nonetheless, we have seen properties, infrastructure, and lives destroyed due to the aftermath pegging a key challenge that ought to be revisited.


While one cannot control nature, some of the key issues contributing to the menace have been underpinned by preventable causes. As a result, lives and various properties have been affected across the city and its environs, as discussed in the subsequent subheadings: 

Poor Maintenance and Weak Enforcement Among Major Flood Catalysts

  • Non-Compliance With Zoning Regulations: Per our recent article on real estate challenges, we noted a lack of adherence to zoning regulations as one of the top pain points impacting optimum property market performance. Precisely, 69.8% of the inspected projects by NCA were found to be non-compliant with building codes and regulations, with NEMA also earmarking developments and structures for demolition. As a result of non-compliance and ignorance, we have seen some developers construct in riparian zones consequently contributing to the disaster. Moreover, the relevant authorities have failed to enact laws stringently. 
  • Dilapidated Drainage Systems: Cognisant of floods swelling drainage systems, we note that some of the lines used in the city and its environs are dilapidated, further exacerbated by haphazard waste disposal and contractors’ mess during construction thus causing clogs. The Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) also highlights the make-do drainage systems as another factor affecting various neighbourhoods. All these together have exposed Nairobi’s woes during storms consequently impacting people’s livelihoods. 
  • Urban Pressure: The high urbanization growth rate averaging 3.7% compared to the world’s 1.5% has put pressure on the city’s urban planning system evidenced by the haphazard slums’ presence with some established in riparian areas. This is in addition to structures established along some roads blocking drainage systems.


Syokimau, Runda, and Athi River Are Some Of The Affected Neighbourhoods In The Nairobi Metropolitan Area (NMA)

The major impacts of floods include loss of lives, displacement, destruction of property (mobile and immobile), and other health concerns. For the real estate market, besides destruction, there is also the uncertainty that impacts one’s decision on buying or paying a mortgage on a property prone to heavy flooding. In the NMA, we note that Runda, Kilimani, South C, Imaara Daima, Syokimau, and Athi River are some of the real estate destinations affected as floods invade properties deeming some inhabitable, and roads impassable or prone to extreme traffic congestion. 

For example, sections of various roads have temporarily been closed due to the floods with the UN-Drive in Runda being the most recent one, and others being Thika Superhighway, Enterprise Road, and Eastern Bypass, following KURA’s directive. For sample properties, we note Crystal Rivers and 360 Degrees Apartments as some of the impacted estates:

Sample One:

Name: Crystal Rivers

Location: Athi River

Number Of Units: 398
Developer/Owner: Safaricom Investment Committee (SIC)

Sample Two:

Name: 360 Degrees Apartments

Location: Syokimau

Number Of Units: 360
Developer/Owner: Private Owner

Source: Estate Intel, Online Search

Preparedness, Collective Responsibility, And Adherence To Zoning Regulations To Help Minimize Flood Impacts. 

Sadly, the weatherman predicts the heavy rains to persist in May 2024. Going forward, the impacts could be better mitigated on various levels through collective responsibility (both government and citizens), adherence to zoning regulations backed up by stringent measures to enact the law, unclogging of drainage lines, and due diligence on a property(s), its environment, and developer as further explained in our real estate pain points article here

Additionally, the government needs to promptly and strategically act on meteorological warnings. Late last year, the meteorological department issued an alert on the incoming El Nino rains that would persist till 2024 however the government did not promptly act despite the intermittent warnings. Mombasa, the second-largest city in the country was one of the most affected areas in 2023, whereas the NMA is currently experiencing the same and much worse. 

Estate Intel loves your feedback! Let the Insights team know what you think about Nairobi’s flood havoc by emailing [email protected].

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