Kenya: Floods displace thousands as rainy season sets in

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Nairobi, 10 Apr 2006 (IRIN) - Heavy seasonal rains at the weekend in Isiolo district in central Kenya caused flash floods that displaced more than 3,000 people, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) said on Monday.

Those affected were mainly people who lived near the banks of the Uaso Nyiro River, which swelled following heavy rains in the area, said Farid Abdulkadir, KRCS head of disaster response. The KRCS used two helicopters on Saturday to ferry 57 tonnes of both food and non-food items to those affected. "This is just the beginning of the rainy season, and we expect more flooding in various parts of the country," Abdulkadir said.

Populations in the region were already suffering from a prolonged drought that has ravaged Isiolo district and killed thousands of livestock in northern and northeastern Kenya. An estimated 3.5 million people in Kenya need food aid, having suffered widespread crop failure and livestock losses.

The flooding along the Uaso Nyiro River valley was caused by heavy rains around the Aberdares mountain range in central Kenya, according to Peter Amebeje, assistant director of Kenya's meteorological department. Heavy precipitation in the drought-stricken areas initially would only lead to soil erosion and flash floods, mainly because all vegetation had dried up, he said.

Abdulkadir said more flooding was anticipated in the flood-prone Nyando plains in western Kenya and along the Tana River basin in the south. Flooding was also reported in Moyale district in northern Kenya, where two bridges had been washed away, and in Nairobi, where scores of slum dwellers lost their homes to flash floods, said Shem Amadi, head of the National Disaster Operations Centre.