Experts have warned that flooding in Kenya could escalate into a humanitarian crisis unless prompt action is taken.
Heavy rain has affected the country’s low lying plains since mid-March which has now resulted in major flooding. The flooding follows months of drought, hunger and water scarcity.
The period of drought severely damaged livelihoods, agriculture and livestock across the Horn of Africa causing food insecurity for 3.4 million people.
100 people have died as a result of the flooding, according to the Kenyan Red Cross, and thousands of households have been displaced.
Abbas Gullet, secretary general of Kenya Red Cross Society, commented on the flooding:
“It is undeniable we are staring at another humanitarian crisis as floods wreak havoc in many parts of the country. The toll of deaths is rising while destroyed crops could worsen food insecurity in the semi-arid regions”
Humanitarian interventions are being increasingly strained by the growing number of displaced people in the coastal counties of Kilifi, Lamu and Tana River.
Abbas Gullet added:
“So many families in the coast region lack shelter, food and clean water after their homes were destroyed by floods. There is a humanitarian crisis already unfolding in this region and the ongoing rains could worsen it”
The Government of Kenya has provided emergency aid to flood victims and has distributed food rations, clean water, medicine and rescue teams from the army to build temporary shelters for the displaced.
Worst affected by the flooding are low lying areas where homes, schools, farmland and hospitals have all been damaged. In the arid and semi-arid regions schools a number of schools have been submerged by flood water.
The flooding has also damaged critical infrastructure in the recovery and disaster reduction process, such as roads, power lines and telecommunication masts. For example, the highway linking Nairobi and the Massai Mara game reserve was cut off.
Concerns have also been raised over an epidemic breaking out in cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa due to contaminated drinking water.
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Image credit: Kipsang Joseph