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Flood-Free Airports Spell Success for the Whole Country

June 14, 2018 | Created by: Andreas Klippe

Nairobi’s airport is now flood-free and it is making a difference to the lives of many people.

Airports are known as the mirror of a country’s image. Aside from that, it is also known as the place where tourists first land and also where they wave their goodbyes.

To make a beautiful impression, most countries invest in their airports. Thus, it is justifiable that when airports are threatened by natural calamities such as storms and floods, the government will have it protected.

The flood incident at Kenya Airports Authority (KAA)

It was 1991 when the Kenya Airports Authority or (KAA) was established. KAA is known as the largest air freight service provider in Africa that manages airports all over the country.

KAA is located in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital and largest city. Though KAA oversees the affairs of at least 11 air terminals (airports and airstrips), its headquarters sit on the premises of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, formerly known as the Nairobi Airport.

The airport authority is located in the middle of a sprawling terrain where the Nairobi River flows along and branches out to many tributaries.

Unlike other places’ vast river systems, Nairobi River is often described as “narrow” and oftentimes polluted. The size of the river and its congested state makes it insufficient to gather a large volume of rainwater.

Whenever it rains, the flood might occur. Mainly because the city doesn’t have a proper drainage system that can handle the volume of rainwater.

Devastating Flood Episode that Affected the Kenya Airports Authority

In 2015, Flood Control International says, heavy rains followed by flood-hit Nairobi and it destroyed establishments including the KAA’s Nairobi International Airport (Jomo Kenyatta International Airport). African Freight Services, which is one of the facilities in KAA, was also badly affected. X-ray machines used to scan bags, electrical installations, and other sets of mechanical equipment were almost rendered useless after the flooding.

Perhaps, the most devastating effect of this flood incident on KAA was the damages on the sets of material-handling equipment. These sets of equipment were used to transfer baggages, both imported and exported, to places in the airport. No doubt, these damaged sets of equipment caused delays in the operations of the African Freight Services.

Flood Protection Goal

A vast stretch of buildings and terminals required protection that could cater to the special nature of the airport. The flood defenses were designed not to hinder but to facilitate the movement of people and materials inside the airport.

Flood Control International sent a five-man team to Nairobi. This team installed the flood barriers, 36 pieces in all, to entrances that could serve as entry points of floodwater.

All flood barriers had a height of 1.20 meters. The longest had a length of about 15.00 meters. In spite of their massive dimensions, the flood barriers were designed to be light – just enough for single-person operations.


Fast Facts on Kenya Airports Authority’s Protection against Flooding

Name of the Institution Kenya Airports Authority (KAA)
Location Nairobi, Kenya
Cause of Flooding Nairobi has a river system, but its size is not enough to redirect floodwater from the streets into the ocean.
Risk to Facilities Brought by Flooding
  • Sets of equipment, especially the materials handling devices, were damaged because of a flooding incident in 2015.
  • Because of these damages, the operations of the African Freight Service were disrupted.
Applied Flood Protection RS Demountable Flood Barriers (36 pieces, each with a height of 1.20 meters)