Heavy rains have intensified in Kenya over the past three weeks, causing death, displacement, flooding and landslides. At least 40,000 people were rendered homeless after the Nzoia river burst its banks on the weekend of 2 May.
Since the beginning of the country’s ‘long rains’ season in early March, more than 233,000 people have been affected, including over 116,000 displaced, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society.
Flooding has been reported in more than three quarters of Kenya’s counties (36 out of 47), with landslides reported in the Rift Valley and the central and coastal regions, according to the Government’s National Disaster Operations Centre.
The Kenya Meteorological Department forecasts aboveaverage rainfall throughout May in parts of the Rift Valley, and in the central, western and coastal regions of Kenya, which could result in further flooding.
The heavy rains have increased the risk of health emergencies and provided conditions conducive to the further breeding of desert locusts in Kenya.
Heavy rains in Kenya have intensified over the past three weeks, causing death, displacement, flooding and landslides in multiple locations across the country. Landslides have caused destruction and loss of lives in the Rift Valley and the central and coastal regions, according to the National Disaster Operations Centre (NDOC).
The long rains season, which began in March, has to date affected over 233,000 people across 36 of Kenya’s 47 counties, including more than 116,000 people displaced, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS). At least 85,000 people are sheltering in displacement camps in the western (more than 55,800 people), North Rift (nearly 15,000), coastal (almost 7,800) and north-eastern (7,000 people) regions. According to the KRCS, at least 54 per cent of the displaced population are female-headed families, while 11 per cent are children under age 5. Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang, confirmed during a press conference on 6 May that at least 194 people have been killed by the floods since March. Damage to infrastructure, including schools, houses, roads and bridges has been reported, and over 8,000 acres of farmland, mainly rice nearly mature, have reportedly been destroyed, according to the Government.
In western Kenya, one of the hardest-hit regions, at least 40,000 people were rendered homeless after the Nzoia river burst its banks on the weekend of 2 May. Meanwhile, the rising level of Lake Victoria is impacting families in Kisumu,
Siaya, Busia, Migori and Nyanza counties. According to the Lake Victoria Basin Commission, the water level in the Lake has risen by more than two metres, a situation last seen when the overflow rose by close to 2.5 metres between 1960 and 1964.
In the north-western region, at least 15 people reportedly died and nearly 4,000 were displaced following a mudslide triggered by heavy rains on 18 April in West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet counties, according to the KRCS. Multiple homes, a shopping centre and a police post have been damaged. The displaced are sheltered in Sambalat Primary School, where a rescue command centre has been established to coordinate humanitarian assistance. According to humanitarian partners, access to the area remains challenging, as roads have been damaged and heavy rains continue in the area. West Pokot County is prone to landslides and has faced several similar incidents in November 2019.
In Mount Kenya and the Aberdares, heavy rainfall has caused an increase in the volume of the Seven Fork Dam, with flooding reported downstream in areas around Tana River, according to media reports. The Government has urged residents living along Tana River and Garrisa districts to move to higher grounds, as water levels in Kiambere. Kindaruma and Masinga dams are likely to overflow. The Government has also issued a red flood alert to people living in upper Kitui, Murang’a and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties.
The heavy rainfall has increased the risk of disease outbreaks and hampered efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Health has reported a cholera outbreak in Marsabit county and parts of north-eastern region. People displaced by floods and landslides are living in temporary camps, where more than 70 per cent of people do not have adequate access to clean water. Congestion, poor sanitation, inadequate food and other essentials—such as medicines, mosquito nets, bedding and clothes—are major concerns, according to KRCS. Displaced people are also vulnerable to pneumonia, bilharzia, diarrhoea and cholera, which are prevalent during flooding.
The Kenya Meteorological Department has warned that more heavy rains are expected in the coming days, especially in the Rift Valley, central, western and coastal areas. These conditions are conducive to the further breeding of desert locusts.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.