Fifty perish in Kenya floods

At least 50 people have died and some 8,000 have been displaced as a result of heavy rains, flooding and landslides in Kenya since March. Many homes have been destroyed and livestock lost. Western regions have been the most severely hit, with some 15,000 people affected, but roads near the capital, Nairobi, were also cut off. With two more months of rains forecast, the situation is likely to deteriorate. The immediate needs in flooded areas are shelter and food. The sanitation situation is also poor, as most latrines have collapsed and are filled up with water. For the second consecutive year, the Kenyan authorities have asked the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), to coordinate the distribution of non-food aid during the flood disaster response. The KRCS, equipped with a VHF radio network, has a 24-hour nationwide surveillance system to monitor every major flood development. About 30 volunteers from each of the seven flood-affected or flood-prone regions are active or on alert. From the onset of the disaster the national society has distributed blankets, plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, jerry cans and kitchen sets to affected people. In response to the emergency and to enable the KRCS to replenish its stocks, the Federation has allocated 50,000 Swiss francs (US$39,000) from its disaster response emergency fund. Aware that more than 300 people died and 150,000 were treated during a highland malaria outbreak in July 2002, the Ministry of Health and KRCS are striving to prevent a recurrence in areas prone to the disease. This year the initial flood patterns indicate a scenario similar to that in 2003, when 60,000 people were affected.