Kenya Flash Update No. 3: Floods | 27 November 2019
• More than 160,000 people, including nearly 18,000 who are displaced countrywide, have been affected by floods or landslides since the onset of the short rains in October, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS).
• At least 120 people have reportedly died, including 72 people who lost their lives after a landslide buried their houses in West Pokot County in north-western Kenya, according to the Government.
• Infrastructure of undetermined value, including roads and bridges, have been damaged, hampering effective humanitarian response efforts in affected areas
Most parts of the country continue to experience above average rainfall since the onset of the 2019 short rains (October – December). While the rains— driven by the strong positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)—might result in improved pasture conditions in arid and semi-arid lands, especially Turkana, Marsabit, Isiolo, and Wajir counties, as well as recharge of surface water pans and dams, including in Masinga, Kiambere and Turkwell dams, there are also reports of overspread damage, loss of lives and livelihoods due to heavy storms. Flash and riverine floods have affected at least 31 of the 47 Kenya’s counties, including in Central, Coastal, Eastern, Northern, Nyanza, Rift Valley and Western regions, and urban areas in Nairobi and Mombasa, according to the Government’s National Disaster Operation Centre (NDOC). Landslides and mudslides have been reported in Meru, Murang’a, Taita Taveta and West Pokot counties, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS). Overall, more than 160,000 people, including nearly 18,000 who are displaced countrywide, have been affected by floods or landslides since the onset of the short rains in October, according to KRCS.
On 22 November, landslides and mudslides in parts of West Pokot County resulted in the death of at least 72 people and displacement of more than 10,000 people, according to the County authorities. Farms, food stores and livestock were swept away, and two bridges along the Kitale-Lodwar road (Ortum) and along Sigor road (Chepera) were cut-off, leaving dozens of commuters stranded and disrupting communication networks in the area. Search and rescue efforts are still ongoing in the area and the numbers of affected population could increase in the coming days. According to the County authorities, priority needs in the area include food and shelter, medical attention, water treatment chemicals and critical non-food items.
In Wajir County, floods arising from rainfall in the Ethiopian Highlands cut off all the roads leading to Bute and Gurar in Wajir North sub-county and washed away a bridge in Buna Town, impacting supplies and response in the area. Communication to Moyale and Bute was reportedly disrupted and at least 5,000 people near Buna market were displaced to higher grounds.
In Garissa and Tana River counties, heavy rains on 22 and 23 November led to massive flooding in the area, exacerbated by the bursting of Tana River. On 24 November, KRCS response teams rescued 15 people who had been marooned at Hadama location in Tana North Sub-county in Tana River County. Preliminary assessments from Tana River and Garissa indicate that 624 families have been displaced. In the Central region, at least 550 people were reportedly displaced in Tigania, in Meru County.
Sections of roads and bridges have been cut-off, paralyzing transport and humanitarian access in Embu, Garissa, Isiolo, Kwale, Lamu, Machakos, Makueni, Mandera, Marsabit, Meru, Mombasa, Samburu, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Trans Nzoia, Turkana and Samburu counties. The Gurdis and Botula dams in Banisain Mandera County broke their walls or banks and require urgent repairs.
In Turkana, flash floods destroyed boreholes, calling for the installation of improved drainage system and relocation of people in affected residential areas to safer grounds. Public toilets and latrines have reported collapsed or are flooded in many areas, increasing the risks of disease outbreaks. Schools are closed in Trans Nzoia and Machakos counties, where several classrooms were flooded.
According to the Kenya Meteorological Department, heavy rains are expected to continue across the country over the next few weeks, mainly due to the positive IOD measurements. Flood alerts have been issued especially for Coastal, Northern and Western regions of the country, with the risk of landslides and mudslides expected in parts of the Central Highlands and parts of the Rift Valley, including West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet and Nandi counties.
Kenya was already facing increase hunger prior to the floods, with 3.1 million people projected to be in crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity since October, according to the latest report from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).