NAIROBI - Kenya’s president faces mounting criticism over his handling of the country’s worst floods in three decades, even as his government steps up its response to the devastation and subsequent political fallout.

President William Ruto, reacting to flooding in several parts of the country that has killed more than 150 people and displaced over 150,000, is under growing pressure to declare the situation a national disaster. It follows criticism over the speed of the government’s response and its preparedness.

Those calling for the declaration of a national disaster say it would trigger a more efficient government response to the needs of victims nationwide, particularly with the country’s meteorological agency forecasting further heavy rains in the coming days. They argue it would enable more resources to be channeled towards rescue and recovery efforts and an assessment of damage to roads, bridges and railway lines.

Flooding has damaged transport infrastructure including roads and bridges, cutting off access to several areas.

But Ruto has expressed reluctance to declare a disaster, telling the BBC that providing resources for affected areas was the more “urgent priority.” Speaking during Labour Day celebrations in Nairobi on May 1, Ruto said the government would prioritize moving those in the city’s badly hit informal settlements into new housing units currently being built under his administration’s controversial affordable housing programme.

“The government has been talking big on climate change, yet when the menace comes in full force, we have been caught unprepared,” opposition leader Raila Odinga said on Tuesday, questioning why contingency plans were not put in place after the Meteorological Department offered early warnings of potential flooding in at least seven regions in the country.