Kenya: Floods - OCHA Situation Report No. 7

Situation Report
Originally published
Ref: OCHA/GVA 2006/0259

OCHA Situation Report No. 7(1)
Floods - Kenya


1. According to statistics collected by the Kenya Red Cross Society through a compilation from media reports, 114 people have lost their lives in the floods between 22 October and 9 December 2006. The estimated total population affected by the floods remains at 723,000.

2. While the rains have subsided in some areas of Kenya, other parts of the country - such as Budalang'i in western Kenya, and Garsen in the coastal region - have seen a steady rise in the number of people affected. Water levels are high near Lake Victoria and in the Tana River basin. The prognosis for the coming weeks and months points to continued rains throughout early 2007, although with reduced intensity. The forecast for the next two weeks also indicates that the rains are likely to ease, with a gradual shift towards the south of the African continent. According to FEWSNET, river basins continue to receive additional precipitation despite the rivers already being above flood-stage along various portions of their course.

3. The main roads from Garissa, Isiolo and Mandera are virtually cut-off and only small 4x4 wheel vehicles can pass. Food prices have escalated, such as, for instance, the price of sugar, which has nearly doubled. In addition, 20 health centres are inaccessible to health workers and there are fears of shortages of medication. Although the Government of Kenya has committed Ksh 30 million to reinstate the Garissa-Dadaab and Garrisa-Modogashi roads, work is unlikely to begin until conditions have stabilised.

4. The main concern in all camps of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is the health situation, as the effects of the floods are starting to surface. The Kenya Red Cross Society summarized health effects as follows: diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia have been detected; most camps lack toilets and clean water; dispensaries are inaccessible such as the one in Chewele, Tana River District.

5. As of 11 December, the Kenya Red Cross Society had distributed the following non-food items (NFIs) to the flood-affected communities: 17,994 blankets, 9,239 kitchen sets, 15,149 jerry cans, 10,052 tarpaulins, 39,304 soaps, 1,078,000 chlorine tablets, 3 bladder tanks, 1,200 water, 2,800 mosquito nets, 70 unimix (a fortified and enriched nutrient) and used clothes. The total value of these items adds up to over Ksh 31 million.

6. WFP reports that since the floods started on 10 November, some 446,757 beneficiaries were reached in the worst hit districts of Garissa, Isiolo, Kwale, Mandera, Wajir, and Ijara district. Approximately 5,780 mt were delivered by road, and some 130 mt of food commodities have been airlifted. In addition, WFP has been airlifting non-food items provided by partners.

7. The WFP emergency operation will need additional 27,190 mt of cereals, 4,385 mt of pulses and 512 mt of salt through the end of February 2007, at a total value of approximately USD 18 million.

8. The flood response is complicated by the prospect 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. Weather conditions have so far hindered the prospects for refugee influx from Somalia. UNHCR reports that there were few arrivals at the Liboi border reception centre during the past week. 35 people who arrived since the last convoy to Liboi on 30 November are reported to be waiting for relocation to camps. The relocation has been delayed, as many trucks and other vehicles have been committed to the transport of airdropped relief supplies.


9. Mandera and Wajir Districts: On 2-4 December, Save the Children completed a rapid assessment in Mandera and Wajir Districts in order to gauge the needs caused by the flooding, and gather information concerning preparedness for a possible influx of refugees should conflict force communities across the border. Within Mandera District, the assessment included visits to Mandera Town and El Wak Town and in Wajir District, Wajir Town. Key issues and recommendations are the following:

i) Logistics: This is a huge challenge as flooding has caused inaccessibility to several areas and sites. Food distributions are not able to take place; mobile nutrition teams are unable to move in western districts of Mandera; and health teams are unable to access 17 sites across Wajir district due to damage to access routes.

ii) Non-food items: Of immediate need are NFIs such as hygiene kits (soap, nail brush, nail cutter, towel), mosquito nets and water purification tablets.

iii) Health: a) Diarrhoeal disease admissions in the Wajir paediatric ward had doubled in November from October's admissions (56 in October compared to 99 in November). b) Public health messages as well as health and hygiene promotion needs to be expanded regarding avoidance of faeco-oral diseases, signs, symptoms and treatment. c) Pharmaceuticals need to reach the health posts, and hospitals. In particular, Coartem (first line treatment for uncomplicated malaria) or other malarial treatments were requested. Also, there is little evidence of vector control across the two districts and a widespread long-term campaign to combat the rising levels of mosquitoes is urgently required. d) Unavailability of electricity makes cold-chain maintenance, which is required for the medication, impossible in many areas of Mandera and Wajir district. The budget is not currently available for maintenance of this.

iv) Nutrition: The flooding may further exacerbate the nutritional situation, and it is therefore necessary to monitor the situation closely, especially if gaps arise as agencies depart.

v) Gender-based Violence: There is currently no facility for counselling services for survivors of sexual gender-based violence and other violent crimes, despite the high rate of occurrence in both districts. This may be best covered in conjunction with the medical services, and through local partners.

vi) Education: Educational facilities are stretched to their capacity, in terms of physical teaching space, human resources and materials, there needs to be both short-term interventions and long-term strategies to address this and to ensure there is capacity to scale up rapidly to a large refugee caseload.

10. Garissa central and Bura: The Kenya Red Cross Society/IFRC has completed a health assessment in 10 IDP camps in Garissa central and Bura. Of the total population of about 17,000 people in the camps, approximately one-third was assessed. The assessment appears to indicate generally poorer conditions in the Bura area than in the camps close to or within Garissa. The hygiene situation is particularly worrisome. In the Bura camps, more than 61 % of men and 47 % of women are defecating in the open bush and, in some instances, near water sources.

11. Garissa District: On 7-8 December, MSF Spain undertook a rapid health assessment in Garissa District. Locations visited were Danyere Division, Benane Division, Amuma and Faji in Jarajila Division and Mansabuba in Bura Division. The main conclusions of the assessments indicated that the most urgent need in all areas visited was for food. Other findings include the following:

i) Malaria: There was some increase in reported cases of malaria and diarrhoea, but it was not clear whether the increase was unusually high. However, as malaria is currently the main morbidity, it is recommended that supplies of Coartem, which the health facilities visited currently lack, be sent to them as soon as possible.

ii) Access to clean water: Access to clean water is a real problem. The water is very dirty and thus, even disinfection by chlorine tablets will not be effective unless the water can be cleared of sediment prior to disinfection.

iii) Sanitation: Sanitation is a problem in all areas visited, as toilets/latrines are almost non-existent. There is no other choice than open defecation, often very close to water sources used by the population for drinking and washing.

iv) Shelter: There is an increased need for support with shelter materials as some villagers have suffered severe damage to their homes as a result of the heavy rains.

v) Livestock: Many men were complaining of increased problems with their livestock - sickness and death of both cows and goats.


Eastern and North-eastern Province


12. The Kenya Red Cross Society reports that in Meru North, rains have been heavy during the last week causing flooding in Maua (Kawiru location) where 136 households have been displaced. In Meru, 140 families have been displaced in Kaweru and Gachongo location. Most of the people are now moving to Mau town. Their main need is food and protection from the mosquito infestation.

13.Wajir district received heavy rains from the onset of the short rains on 20 October 2006 until to date. The over-flooded Ewaso Nyiro River has made some settlements completely inaccessible for the last month. Some water pans broke their banks letting floodwaters flow into Riba and Mansa centres, among other areas. Water is running from the Ethiopian hills to different parts of the district contaminating the water pans and unprotected shallow wells, which are the main sources of water for over 70 % of the district.

14. The outbreak of cholera in Moyale poses a real risk to Wajir. Vectors like mosquitoes and flies have increased considerably due to the pools of stagnant water, overgrown bushes and poor sanitation practices. Serious health risks are associated with these issues.

15. In Wajir town, Gogof, Minor and Medina estate areas are currently submerged by water. Many shallow wells have been contaminated as a result of seepage and direct washing into the uncapped wells.

16. On 13 December, the Kenya Red Cross Society reported that in Wajir District Hospital, 54 children diagnosed with diarrhoea were admitted. This number is high, especially in comparison to October 2006 where only 12 children were diagnosed with diarrhoea in the same hospital. In October, there were 26 malaria cases but in November, the number doubled to 42. In the third week of November, 9 health facilities reported 637 cases of diarrhoea, while in the fourth week, 15 facilities reported 937 cases. Six diarrhoea-related deaths were reported in the paediatric ward in the month of November. A total of 689 children are admitted in the nutritional programme. Of these children, 39 are severely malnourished and 650 moderately malnourished.

17. Drug supply and distribution remains a big challenge, due to limited access to Wajir and health posts in the different divisions.

National and International Response

18. The NGO International Aid Services is working in Garissa District in the area, which stretches 85 kilometres between Sombo village and Korati village, along the Tana River far into the interior, away from the main town centres and main road between Garissa and Nairobi. The following activities are reported to take place: 1. Scouting and rescue (displaced persons rescued and then taken to the camps), 2. Return and resettlement (including distribution of 1,100 blankets and 550 utensil kits), 3. Sanitation (15 toilets have been established), 4. Water purification (1,350,000 litres of drinking water will be treated), 5. Shelter and mosquito nets (including 5,500 plastic sheets for shelter and 6,400 mosquito nets distributed) and 6. Treatment of stationary water (stagnant pools of water will be sprayed).

19. WFP reports that they have enough cereals to feed the refugees in Dadaab in December but that the transport to Dadaab still remains problematic. The road conditions are still bad and only light trucks can move.

20. UNHCR reports that CARE is trucking water to new areas in Hagadera and Ifo camps. Part of the consignment of 12 kilometres of water pipes procured by UNICEF was airlifted from Garissa for Ifo II. The water system in Ifo II became operational on 13 December.

21. In Liboi, Mercy Corps is distributing shelter and water supplies following an assessment by the organisation's Global Emergency Operations team. The assessment found that the flooding had caused immediate and unmet humanitarian needs in the border town of Liboi. The organisation's initial response will target approximately 10,000 people.

Coastal Province


22. In Tana River, an estimated 190,000 people are affected and require food, shelter and medication. The worst hit areas are the riverine areas where crops have been washed away and food and houses submerged in Mbala Mbala, Chewele, Hola and Mnazini areas. Most roads have been cut off and accessing some internally displaced people (IDPs) is a major challenge. Airlifting food and non-food items remains the only way at the moment to assist the displaced.

23. Kone and Assa areas are completely cut-off. Kameni and Sailoni are also submerged while Wenje and Hara were completely cut-off. Matagala Primary School has been occupied by IDPs from six villages. Water, health sanitation and food are the major concern in the area. Diarrhoeal cases, especially amongst children living in IDP camps, have been brought about by poor sanitation. There are also cases of malaria in the IDP camps.

National and International Response

24. The Kenya Red Cross Society reports that they have procured two boats to operate on the Tana River and will be getting six more in the near future. These boats are helping in evacuating the affected people since the roads in many areas remain inaccessible. They will also conduct search and rescue operations as well as relief assistance. In the beginning, the rescue team has been forced to use a small canoe for evacuation purposes. There are fears of attacks from crocodiles and hippopotami along the Tana River.

25. Following a rapid assessment of the southern region of Tana River on 9 December, MSF started interventions in Tana River, operating out of Garsen town. The team arrived in Garsen on 14-15 December. The activities undertaken include mobile clinics, hygiene promotion and NFI distributions in collaboration with the other actors on the ground. MSF Spain also intends to carry out a more in-depth assessment in the area.

26. On 14 December, UNICEF took the following supplies to Malindi: 1,500 jerry cans, 2,000 buckets, 1,000 filter cloth, 50,000 purification sachets, 50,000 chlorine tablets, 20 drums of chlorine powder, 20,000 mosquito nets, 4,000 blankets and 4,000 tarpaulins.

27. 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


(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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