Kenyan coastline floods, posing health risks

News and Press Release
Originally published
An estimated 28,000 people are affected by severe flooding along the Kenyan coastal areas of Mombasa, Kilifi, Malindi, Kipini, Mpeketoni, Witu and Garsen, following heavy rainfall since the last four weeks.

The floods have caused substantial destruction to property and infrastructure, as well as destroyed or submerged thousands of houses. Seven people have lost their lives - three in Kilifi and four in Mombasa - and some injured when their houses collapsed on them.

"There is now a risk of disease outbreaks since latrines and sanitation facilities have collapsed, as some residents are drinking water from contaminated sources," says Mr. Mahdi Mohamed, the Coast Region Disaster Coordinator of the Kenya Red Cross Society. Latrines have collapsed or have been destroyed posing a risk of cholera, dysentery, typhoid and other waterborne diseases outbreak. "There are also fears of the outbreak of malaria due to the stagnant floodwaters," Mr. Mohamed adds.

Some schools have been affected and learning disrupted. The students have been referred to other nearby schools to continue with their education. Roads and bridges have been damaged and this has made accessibility into the affected areas very difficult. Residents are now using crude makeshift boats to move from one area to another. Some communities in Mpeketoni are still marooned by water. A number of livestock have also drowned or washed away.

Wide stretches of farmland have been destroyed and this has affected the food security situation in the coastal region as some of the areas supply food to other parts of the country. The livelihoods of thousands of people have been impaired leaving many residents dependent on relief food. The worst affected area is Mpeketoni with about 17,000 people affected by floods.

Warede Dela, 68, resides in Didewarida area of Witu Division of Mpeketoni. He recounts how floods have caused him misery. "I have lost all my livestock and crops in the floods," he moans. "Our children have also been vomiting and facing bouts of diarrhoea due to the contaminated water since the pipes supplying clean water to this area have been broken," he adds.

The Kenya Red Cross Society has been responding to the affected people since the onset of the rains. "Five heavy duty M621 trucks have been distributing blankets, mosquito nets, tarpaulins, kitchen sets, jerricans, bars of soap and aqua tabs worth Kenya Shillings 8 million," said Mr. Mohamed. Mr. Mohamed adds that the Government of Kenya also donated food, which has been distributed by the Kenya Red Cross.

The Lamu District Commissioner provided 135,000kgs of maize, 59,940kgs of beans and 30,000kgs of rice, while the Tana River District Commissioner donated 7 MTs of food for people affected in Kipini area. In addition, the Kinango District Commissioner provided 23,350kgs of rice, 16,200kgs of beans, 108kgs of tea leaves and 800 blankets. The government has also donated aqua tabs.

The Kenya Red Cross has been creating awareness to communities on the likelihood of the Tana River bursting its banks at any moment if rains persisted upstream. This would cause more destruction of houses and farmlands in Kwale, Tana River and Lamu and thereby create food shortage and food insecurity. With the support of the local administration, communities living in lowlands have been advised to move to higher grounds to avoid loss of lives and livelihoods.

The Kenya Red Cross is planning to set up three Emergency Response Unit a Water and Sanitation treatment plants along the coastline that are capable of purifying 10,000 litres of water in a day for 500 people. Assessment of the flooding situation is ongoing as the rains are still pouring in some areas, but stopped in others. The floods are also receding and soon the communities will return to their homes.