Kenya: Floods cause chaos

News and Press Release
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By Titus Mung'ou, Kenya Red Cross, in Nairobi

Massive flooding occurring in Kenya has affected up to 70,000 people after torrential rains lashed many parts of the country, leaving behind a trail of destruction.

Daniel Ekal, 30, a resident of Loiyo village in Turkana East District, lost his property and all his household goods when a nearby canal burst its banks after several days of heavy downpour.

"I lost my iron-roofed house and two huts. The floods swept away my goats, killing one and breaking the legs of another," said Ekal, a wheelchair-user, at the Kenya Red Cross Society branch office where he has sought help.

Heavy rains

More than 4,000 families have suffered similar crises in Turkana, one of the hardest hit areas. Over the past two weeks, heavy rains and floods have been reported in more than 15 districts in Kenya, mostly in the North Rift, South Rift, Western Kenya, Lower Eastern and Nairobi.

So far, the Kenya Red Cross Society search and rescue teams have confirmed 24 lives lost and more than 6,000 livestock killed by the raging floods.

"The predicted El-Niño rains have resulted in displacement of thousands of families, many of whom had not yet recovered from the effects of the prolonged drought felt most of last year. Most areas now are inaccessible by road, leaving air intervention as the only means to reach hundreds of those marooned in the hard to reach areas," says Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet.

Dire need

The Red Cross has already helped more than 8,500 people with food and other relief items, and a medical team was also dispatched. However, some 30,000 people are still in dire need of urgent emergency assistance.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) stepped in with 432,589 Swiss francs (415,950 US dollars/292,289 euro) from its reserves to support the Kenya Red Cross' effort to deliver this assistance in the worst hit areas.

Some 6,000 houses have collapsed and many schools, health centres and bridges sustained extensive damage in the flooding. In addition, more than 800 acres of crops have been washed away.

More aid required

"The enormity of the problem means more aid will be required to address the needs of more than 4,000 households in the larger Turkana district," explains Turkana East branch coordinator Edung Ethuro, who oversees the distribution of relief to residents in Lokori and nearby areas.

With further heavy rains forecast for the rest of the month, the Kenya Red Cross has increased its sensitization and awareness activities in form of drills to flood-prone communities in Western Kenya, to improve their ability to evacuate to higher ground.

Titus Mung'ou is the PR & Communications Manager, Kenya Red Cross Society. Email: