Kenya

Kenya: Floods Information Bulletin No. 1

The Kenya Red Cross Society's mission is to build capacity and respond with vigour, compassion and empathy to those affected by disaster and those at risk, in the most effective and efficient manner. It works closely with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 185 countries.

In Brief

This Information Bulletin (no. 7/2007) reflects the information available at this time.

Situation

Heavy flooding was reported in Tana River District on 21st November 2007 that resulted in widespread damage to infrastructure and the displacement of approx 3,420 people (570 families). The problem was compounded by the release of excess water from Kengen's hydroelectric dams. The most affected areas were Bura, Wenje, Garsen, Boji, Ozi and Kau. The massive destruction of homes has forced people to seek temporary shelter in Internally Displacement People's (IDP) camps.

To date, learning in schools has been interrupted, as most schools remain submerged and are now closed. Some bridges have been washed away and roads in the affected areas rendered impassable. This has made it very difficult for humanitarian workers and relief transportation to access the affected people in IDP camps. Thousands of crop land has been destroyed in Bura, Wenje and Garsen. The submergence of newly planted crops and the destruction of food storage have diminished food security in Tana River.

Farmers dependent on flood recession agriculture on the Tana basin lost their bananas, paw paws, onions and maize. The Kenya Red Cross has been distributing seeds to most of the farmers along Tana River through an earlier floods recovery programme. Most of them have lost the seeds and this could lead to food insecurity.

Floods have also filled wells, dams and other water reservoirs. The rise in water levels in existing wells has increased the risk of contamination, as a number of wells were not being used due to poor maintenance. Demand for safe and clean drinking water necessitated the need to use water purification techniques such as chlorination and filtration. In some parts of Bura, there are already water storage tanks in two of the IDP camps, but more are needed in Lower Tana IDP camps.

As the local administration informed the communities to relocate to higher ground, not all people marooned by the floodwaters wanted to move to higher ground. For instance, some residents of Dumi Village of Kipini decided to ignore the warning to move out and stayed on because of their deep cultural attachment to their ancestral homes. Canoe is the means of local transport in all flood-affected areas, but is however slow and cannot withstand the power of the raging floodwaters.

Rainfall seasons in Kenya are often associated with flooding episodes. The long rain season between April and May usually causes more widespread flooding than the short rain season, which occurs between November and December. During this year, the long rains brought heavy downpour resulting in widespread flooding in the lower plains of the major rivers in Lake Victoria and Tana River drainage basins. According to Meteorological Department of Kenya, Mt. Kenya-Aberdare catchments such as Nyeri and Meru recorded above normal rains causing heavy floods in Tana River region.

Red Cross Action

The Kenya Red Cross Tana River Branch conducted an assessment on 22nd November 2007 to identify the number of people affected and/or displaced by the floods. The assessment indicated food, temporary shelter, sanitation and clean water as the most urgent needs of the affected communities. Branch volunteers were mobilised to conduct evacuation of people from marooned areas in Ozi, Kau and Boji.

The Tana River Branch has so far distributed non-food items worth Ksh 4,883,423 million to a total of approx. 6,870 people (1,145 families). Details are as follows:

- 30th November 2007 and 1st December 2007: Relief distribution to 3,402 people (567 families).

- 2nd December 2007: Relief distribution conducted to 2,112 people (352 families) in Kibaoni and Bura in Tana River District. The items included; 352 tarpaulins, 704 blankets, 704 jerricans, 704 mosquito nets, 1,408 bars of soap and 352 kitchen sets.

- 3rd December 2007: Relief distribution to 726 people (121 families).

- 4th December 2007: Relief distribution to 630 people (105 families).

16 volunteers from Tana River and Garsen Branches are involved in the distribution. Kenya Red Cross trucks are being used to transport the items to IDP camps. Non-food items from Garissa regional office for 500 families have been released to Garsen for distribution.

Coordination

A floods needs assessment was conducted on 23rd November 2007 by the Tana River Disaster Management Committee comprising Arid Lands Resource Management Project, Kenya Red Cross, Ministry of Water, Wenje Catholic Parish, Tana River DC, DDO and DIST. The report provided an important source of information on which targeting, mobilization and logistical planning was based in order to respond to the affected people.

The government distributed maize and beans in Bura Division. According to the Ministry of Health, proper surveillance and prevention measures were instituted to monitor the upsurge of diseases and provide the necessary drugs and treatment in public facilities. A rapid health assessment was done for Upper Tana. Medical reports indicated that although an increase in malaria cases was noted in the past months, the situation was under control.

Map: Kenya: Floods - Location Map

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

Mr. Abbas Gullet, Secretary General, Kenya Red Cross Society, Email; gullet.abbas@kenyaredcross.org Phone 254.20.60.35.93; 254.20.3950000 Fax 254.20.60.35.89

Dr. James Kisia, Deputy Secretary General, Kenya Red Cross Society, Email; kisia.james@kenyaredcross.org Phone 254.20.60.35.93; 254.20.3950000 Fax 254.20.60.35.89

Mr. Ahmed Abdi, Acting Head of Department, Disaster Preparedness and Response, Kenya Red Cross Society; Email abdi.ahmed@kenyaredcross.org Phone254.20.60.35.93; 254.20.3950000 Fax 254.20.60.35.89

Mr. Anthony Mwangi, Public Relations Manager, Kenya Red Cross Society, Email info@kenyaredcross.org Phone 254.20.60.35.93; 254.20.3950000 Fax 254.20.60.35.89

All Kenya Red Cross Society assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. For support to or for further information concerning the Kenya Red Cross Society programmes or operations, or for a full description of the Society's profile, please access the Kenya Red Cross Society Website at http://www.kenyaredcross.org or the Federation's Website at http://www.ifrc.org