As El-Niño clouds gather, refugees at the world's largest refugee camp, the Dadaab Refugee camps in Kenya, are hoping for the best, but at the same time, preparing for the worst. Granted that the recent deluge that lasted barely two weeks had devastating ramifications on their wellbeing, the thought of another round of floods is unsettling to many, just to say the least. The said rains which last pounded the Northern Frontier region of Kenya and many Southern regions of Somalia, and the ensuing floods, brought with it tears and misery not only for the refugees whose status have been confirmed, but also for those on their way to the camp.
The effects of last month's rain are still being felt in the camp. In the Dagahaley camp's block C7, most families are still putting up with friends and relatives, since their houses are rendered inhabitable due to the flood water. One such house belongs to Fatumo Abdi Aden who has been forced to seek refuge neighbour's house.
Although she is currently using part of the house to prepare her meals, she cannot sleep in the house with her three children. She says that although she and her affected neighbours had used sand bags which they put around their houses as recommended, the support was no match to the raging flood waters. The same story was told by refugees in the Ifo Camp. Sections of the camp are still impassable because of the stagnant water that has blocked footpaths and roads within the camp.
A lot of the refugees fear for the worst once the rains start again. This has raised the levels of apprehension to palpable levels. Mr David Owalo, the Field Assistant Officer with the UNHCR, said that what is currently needed are non food items (NFIs) which are urgently needed to mitigate the expected floods and the resulting effects on the refugees. These include blankets, tarpaulin sheeting, jerricans and mattresses among others. On her part, Danish Refugee Council's programmes officer in charge of Dadaab, Rose Kanana, has indicated that the organisation has prepositioned NFI's as a contingency measure to mitigate the expected effects on the refugees. This, she added, will be implemented in partnership with UNHCR, NRC and CARE Kenya.