Kenya

WFP airlifts emergency aid to flood-stricken Kenyans

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Nairobi -- The United Nations World Food Programme said today it has started an airlift to provide urgently needed food rations and emergency supplies to flood victims in the seven worst-hit areas of Kenya.
The one-month operation will deliver 1,000 metric tons of high energy biscuits, bulk foods, blankets, medicines, plastic sheeting, seeds, cooking sets, kerosene and other relief supplies at a cost of about US$7.2 million.

The airlift will assist 295,000 flood victims in the districts of Tana River, Garissa, Mandera, Wajir, Moyale, Marsabit and Isiolo, which have suffered severe flood damage from unusually heavy rains that began last month.

The first flight delivered 16 metric tons of food and a consignment of 200 drums of aviation fuel Wednesday to Wajir district, where an estimated 62,000 people are in need of assistance. The flooding followed a drought emergency in 1996, and NGOs report that household and commercial food stocks have almost run out and prices for the commodities that remain are sky rocketing. "Reports indicate that in a number of areas, such as Southern Wajir and Garsen division of Tana River district, the situation is, if anything, deteriorating," Mike Sackett, WFP country director of Kenya, said.

Flood water has inundated latrines, contaminating drinking water, and livestock that survived the flood are threated by severe foot rot and other veterinary health problems, the reports said. WFP set up the airlift in cooperation with other UN agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs) and the Government of Kenya in response to a Government appeal to help people stranded by the flooding.

"This team work makes it possible to mobilize rapidly and provide urgently needed food, medicines, fuel and temporary shelter in the shortest possible time," Sackett said

A C130 cargo plane will fly from Mombasa and Nairobi to make airlifts and airdrops. Officials estimate that if the rains cease now, it will be early January before they can restore roads in most of the districts, and Wajir and parts of Tana River district are likely to be isolated for even longer.

"A more realistic scenario is for the rains to continue throughout December with a progressive reduction in intensity. If this is the case, road transport is likely to be severely disrupted until late January," Sackett said.

For further information, please contact:

Michael Sackett Lindsey Davies
Country Director , WFP/Kenya Information Officer, WFP/Kenya
Tel. +254-2 622049 Tel. +254-2 622336
Trevor Rowe Christiane Berthiaume
Spokesman, WFP/Rome Information Officer,
WFP/Geneva
Tel. +39-6 6513-2602 Tel. +41-22 979-9564