Kenya: Floods - OCHA Situation Report No. 6

Situation Report
Originally published
Ref: OCHA/GVA 2006/0258

OCHA Situation Report No. 6(1)
Floods - Kenya


1. The number of affected people by the floods in the several regions in Kenya is still estimated at approximately 723,000. This includes about 60,000 displaced people in the coastal, western and eastern provinces of Kenya. The floods have destroyed and damaged considerable quantities of crops and farmland, provoking fears of renewed food insecurity in the affected regions over the months to come. The floods have destroyed thousands of latrines in the flood-affected areas increasing the potential for outbreaks of diarrhoeal diseases and malaria.

2. The prognosis for the coming weeks and months point to continued rains through early 2007, although with reduced intensity in most parts of country. The latest rainfall forecast by the Kenya Meteorological Department predicts that after a generally dry period in most parts of country, wet conditions are expected to resume again in most places.

3. The impact of the floods could be exacerbated by the possibility of a regional war centred on Somalia, where the Union of Islamic Courts and the Transitional Federal Government are fighting for control of the country.

4. Gaining access to delivering aid to affected populations remains a major challenge for relief agencies as, across much of Kenya, the rains have rendered roads impassable and knocked out bridges, so even when the rains stop, commercial and humanitarian transport will be halted until emergency road-repairs are completed. In general, road conditions for routes within the affected districts vary daily. This means that, in most cases, air logistics is the only practicable method to reach individual villages. People in cut-off communities are increasingly vulnerable, as most shops have run out of essential supplies. Food prices for basic commodities have increased, in some cases by over 200 %.

5. Due to access difficulties, many health workers cannot report to work and patients cannot get to health centres either. This leads to interruption of routine health care, especially for children, the elderly, pregnant women and other vulnerable populations. Due to previous droughts, people in the region have experienced severe food shortages and high rates of malnutrition. People's immunity is weakened, making them more vulnerable to diseases.

6. WHO reports that in Garissa district, which is one of the worst affected regions in Kenya, the number of medical consultations has tripled over the last week compared to the pre-flood period. The three leading reasons for consultations are diarrhoeal diseases, malaria and acute respiratory infections. Outbreaks of cholera, with deaths, have been reported in Moyale, Mombasa and Kwale and can be expected to continue in the near future.

7. The water and sanitation systems are disrupted and normal water sources have become unsafe for drinking due to the impact of floodwaters and other contaminants. WHO reported that in Garissa District people were forced to get water from contaminated sources, as the two litres of safe water per person per day that were available did not meet their basic needs. The recommended quantity is ten times more.

8. According to UNICEF, more than 180 schools with over 200,000 children have been affected in the Coast and North-Eastern Provinces, including the destruction of teaching and learning materials, collapsed walls and latrines and the loss of roofing material.

9. The experience of the 1997-98 El Nino floods indicates the serious risk of livestock diseases following the floods receding. Cases of Contagious Bovine Pleuro-Pneumonia (CBPP), Contagious Caprine Pleuro- Pneumonia (CCPP) and foot-rot have been reported to be on the increase by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Conditions are also favourable for an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) especially among camels, sheep and goats, although no cases have so far been reported. In the past, this led to a ban on livestock exports from the region to Gulf States. Emergency intervention in the livestock sector needs to be put in place for such eventualities, which may have far reaching implications on livelihoods beyond this emergency period.


Coastal and North-eastern Province

10. The Flood Relief Coordination Centre (FRCC) in Garissa reported that assessments and visits to villages conducted on 7-11 December have covered outlying divisions of Garissa district and southwards along the Tana River into the delta area. Reports from these assessments indicate differing conditions and needs across the region that can be summarised as follows:

a. Garissa District and eastern Ijara District (Ijara, Sangailu and Hulugho divisions). Conditions vary across villages and IDP camps across the area. Availability of food and non-food items (NFIs) depends on the accessibility of individual villages to helicopter landing sites. Medical supplies are generally available within the divisions, but getting them to specific villages is problematic in many cases. Coping ability within communities appears relatively high compared with the population. Disease rates are in some cases above the normal levels for the rain season.

b. Tana River District and Witu Division (in Lamu District). Air reconnaissance indicates that conditions worsen considerably from a point approximately 40km north of Garsen, and into the river delta. Substantial numbers of villages are partly or completely flooded or cut off, particularly in Kipao and Galini sub-locations. Sample assessments indicate a wide range of needs including water purification (turbidity will make purification tablets ineffective), medical assistance, and NFIs. Farms have in most cases been completely flooded and many animals lost. Conditions are reported to be much worse than in the Garissa divisions, with poorer coping capacity.

11. During the week of 4 December, reports were received from two different sources (Kenya Red Cross Society and WFP) indicating that the conditions in the delta of Tana River District was deteriorating due to the flooding of villages and subsequent population displacement. To this effect, the Government of Kenya, Kenya Red Cross Society, UNICEF and WFP conducted an assessment on 8-9 December in order to better gauge the geographical extent of the flooding and the specific needs on the ground. The main findings by sector include:

a. Access: From Hola through Wenje (Majango village) to Garsen (Nmanzini village), the population is only able to move by canoe to areas where services (markets and health centres) are provided. Considering the time it takes to reach the centres and in view of the small amounts that are transportable by the hand-made canoes, access is a critical issue. In the delta area of Garsen and Kipini, it was reported that Kipini division is covered in floodwater. Dozens of villages have been submerged and for the villagers, movement by canoe is the only mode of transport available. Although Bura Division (Matalaga village) and IDP camps along Witu and Garsen road can be accessed by road using a land cruiser or 6x6 trucks, women do not have easy access to markets. There are also no communication facilities, such as telephones, two-way radios or e-mail.

b. Food: From Hola through Wenje (Majango village) to Garsen (Nmanzini village) along the river-line, crops planted along the river have been washed away by the floods, which is problematic for medium-term food security. Available food for consumption was reported insufficient and food assistance will be required for the next two to three weeks. In the Delta area of Garsen and Kipini, relief food had reportedly not been provided in the villages assessed. In the Bura Division (Matagala village) food was not available in meaningful quantities for the displaced people and is therefore considered as one of the first priorities for the displaced.

c. Public health: In most of the villages visited, an increase in diarrhoeal illnesses, malaria and respiratory illnesses were reported. An outbreak of chicken pox was reported and some children with fresh lesions were seen by the assessment team. Several children with no access to health care were found to have fast breathing and fever in Matagala camp. The assessment team found the following risk factors for outbreaks: poor personal hygiene, consumption of contaminated water, challenges with faecal disposal, lack of shelter and exposure to cold temperatures especially at night for IDPs, lack of food and stress. Some of the health centres visited lacked health personnel and those with the personnel were lacking stocks of medicine.

d. Livestock health: Important current livestock diseases observed were worm infestations and skin mange. Under the current conditions, the herders and district authorities reported that tsetse flies and mosquitoes were noted to be increasing. This sent out fears that the transmission of trypanosomiasis and Rift Valley Fever would begin.

e. Water and Sanitation: In all of the areas visited, residents took their water directly from the river or the canals. There was no treated water available and few mentioned boiling water before drinking; the quality of the water is thus highly questionable. Few latrines were available in the visited location, but the usual method of defecation is in the bush. All people washed their hands after defecation, but only with water, as soap was not available.

f. Shelter: In the river zone, shelter was not a significant issue but it is likely that there are a couple of areas with higher IDP populations and in these areas shelter will be needed.

g. Recommendations: Due to the high risk of illness and disease and the limited benefit in gathering additional assessment information, priority goods (NFIs, medicine and food) should be distributed without delay.

Western Province

12. The Kenya Red Cross Society reported that in Budalangi, the collapsing of dykes on River Nyando has led to flooding, which has left more than 10,000 people displaced. Some of these people have gone back to their homes while others continue to camp in safer places. According to an assessment done last weekend (9-10 December) by the Ministry of Water, the water levels have subsided, although uncontrolled flow of water continues in some places. Plans are underway to raise the dykes on the lower sections of River Nzoia once the rains stop.


Food and non-food distributions

13. WFP established an air operation in Garissa district. The two helicopters are currently serving Garissa, Ijara, and Tana River districts in food and NFI aid delivery according to the geographical priorities that have been agreed upon by the Kenya Food Security Steering Group.

14. By 10 November, WFP had distributed 3,741 MT of food to 268,483 people in six drought- and flood-affected districts of Garissa, Wajir, Tana River, Mandera, Isiolo and Kwale. In addition, airdrops started in Ijara District on 4 December.

15. In Dadaab camps, WFP has so far distributed 4,235 MT of food to 158,411 refugees. WFP is preparing to airdrop at least 2,000 MT of cereals, for distribution in January.

16. On 8 December, UNHCR, with the help of the US military, started an emergency airdrop operation of more than 240 tonnes of urgently needed relief supplies to the Dadaab refugee camps in eastern Kenya. The US military will use a C-130 cargo plane to airdrop the supplies, which include plastic sheets, blankets and mosquito nets. Altogether, fifteen rotations were planned between 8 and 13 December. Arrangements have been made to secure the perimeter of the drop zone during the exercise.

17. UNICEF has NFI stocks in Nairobi and Garissa although the stock in Garissa is almost depleted. In Nairobi, the items include 125 containers of chlorine 65 %, 1,700,000 chlorine tablets, 400,000 PUR (purification) sachets, 8 water testing kits, 8,000 jerry cans, 6,000 buckets, 830 blankets and 90,000 mosquito nets. NFIs in Garissa include 40 containers of chlorine 65 %, 200,000 chlorine tablets, 72,760 PUR (purification) sachets, 114 plastic latrine slabs, 949 soap boxes, 15 water tanks, 3,000 blankets, 2,000 tarpaulins and 28,600 mosquito nets.

18. UNICEF is currently distributing a total of 250,000 mosquito nets (LLTN) for children, pregnant women and displaced families in Garissa, Dadaab, Ijara, Tana River, Mandera, Wajir, Isiolo, Marsabit, Moyale, Turkana, West Pokot and Samburu.

19. During the week ending 9 December, UNICEF dispatched 20 water tanks to Garissa along with water fittings and accessories worth more than USD 180,000. Several emergency health kits were also dispatched including four emergency kits and four drug kits to Wajir, North-eastern Province (sufficient for 40,000 people for three months) as well as five emergency kits to Turkana, Rift Valley Province (sufficient for 50,000 people for three months). A further five emergency health kits were dispatched to Isiolo, Marsabit and Moyale districts, serving a total of 50 000 people for 3 month.

Camp management

20. UNHCR has moved 7,000 of the most-affected refugees from Ifo to Hagadera camp, some 20 km away and moved a further 7,000 people to higher ground. A new site, called Ifo II is being developed on higher ground. A mass information campaign was launched in Ifo camp to inform refugees of the plans agreed with refugee leaders to relocate some shelters and services to Ifo II and to explain how, when and why this will happen.


21. Due to the threats of malaria and cholera outbreaks, the Kenya Red Cross Society sent health teams to conduct assessments of the health impact in the affected areas. The national society is carrying out disease surveillance and hygiene education in the affected communities. Two adult dispensary kits, paediatric kits and intravenous (IV) fluid, amongst other medical items, were transported to Garissa to be used in the IDP camps. In addition, four normal tents, four hospital tents, and a rubb-hall store were also sent to the area.

22. A public health response team has been set up by the District Health Management Team (DHMT) in Garissa, which conducts mobile clinics in IDP camps every second day. Activities of the response team include treatment of minor ailments, immunization, nutrition screening, surveillance for epidemic-prone diseases and distribution of ITNs (insecticide-treated mosquito nets).


23. MAP Action, a UK NGO supporting OCHA to establish a "Who does what where" database and a mapping exercise, has provided coordination and information management support via the Flood Relief Coordination Centre (FRCC) in Garissa. Their maps covering the Tana River basin are uploaded to and also available on Reliefweb ( These maps include Who-What-Where maps of emergency response actors in the Tana River Basin, situation overview maps, "Landsat" imagery with roads and district boundaries, Tana River District Basin administrative boundaries, WFP delivery locations and IDP camps and flight coverage maps from Garissa.

24. On 13 December, the Kenya Food Security Steering Group has convened a special floods coordination meeting, which is chaired by the Office of the President. This is a weekly meeting aimed at streamlining coordination mechanisms. The Kenya Food Security Group, with support from FAO, will include the meeting minutes and assessments of the floods crises at

25. OCHA is in close contact with the humanitarian community in Kenya and will revert with further information as it becomes available. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at


(1) This report is based on information received from the United Nations agencies in Kenya as well as other humanitarian agencies, international NGOs, OCHA staff in Kenya and media sources.

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