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Floods kill 158, displaces 299,859 others in Kenya since March

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Flash floods from heavy rains pounding several parts of Kenya have claimed 158 lives and displaced 299,859 others since March, a humanitarian agency said on Thursday.

The Kenya Red Cross said numerous effects of heavy rains have caused displacement of populations, destruction of roads and water infrastructure, deaths and injuries, disruption of access to essential services and loss of livelihoods.

Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross, said a total of 49,975 households (approximately 299,859 people) have been displaced, 19,223 animals (livestock) lost and about 21,741 acres of farmland with crops destroyed.

"The effects of the floods countrywide have now reached a proportion of a national disaster and its severity will be seen when the rains are over.

"It is our duty to help the families recover from this disaster," Gullet said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

He said the majority of the counties affected are the same ones that were affected by the drought, prior to these rains.

"It is a double tragedy and these communities have been rendered more vulnerable because of the cyclical disasters and their coping mechanisms have been totally depleted," he added.

Kenya has been experiencing unprecedented flooding in recent days as torrential rains pound the country shortly after it had come out of a severe drought season marked by hunger and water scarcity.

The statement comes as the Kenya Meteorological Department said on Thursday the ongoing rains that have left a trail of deaths and destruction will subside in a month’s time.

The department’s director, Peter Ambeje, who dismissed the allegations in some quarters that the rains have been caused by the El Nino phenomenon, warned of increased rains in the Coastal and Western regions.

Ambeje said the rains would start declining in Northern parts of the country but would increase in the Coastal region.

He attributed the current situation to a condition referred to as "Madden Julian Oscillation" which had hit the East Africa region.

"Our weather forecast indicates that the rains will reduce in Northern Kenya but increase in Western, Central and the Coastal region," he said in Naivasha during a workshop on Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay (AMDAR) system.

He noted that they had partnered with Kenya Airways in introducing the new AMDAR system to collect meteorological data as one way of improving service delivery.

Ambeje said that under the system, they would fit the Airways plane with software that would help collect data while on flight.

"In weather forecast data is very critical and under the Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay system we shall use planes from Kenya Airways to achieve this," he said.

The low lying plains have borne the brunt of floods as evidenced by massive destruction of homes, farms, infrastructure and basic amenities like schools and hospitals.

Many schools in the arid and semi-arid regions are already submerged in floods hence putting uncertainties on resumption of studies after the April holiday.

On Wednesday evening, a dam bust its banks in Solai, Subukia Sub-county in Nakuru severely affecting two village.

This was one of the three dams in the area owned by a private investor, which was located in the middle of the three dams.

Gullet said 32 deaths and an estimated 500 households being displaced have so far reported by the government.

He said 41 survivors were taken to hospital, 35 of them were discharged while six are still in hospital.

He said five people have so far been reported missing at the Red Cross Tracing desk located at the incident site and the tracing teams are searching for them.

"These families will need long-term assistance by both government and other humanitarian players," Gullet said.

He said the Red Cross has released relief supplies to support the 500 displaced families and is offering psychosocial support to survivors, families and relatives of deceased.

This has been done in partnership the County Government of Nakuru and the Central Government.


Death toll rising to 32 in ‘Patel Dam’ Solai sudden burst tragedy


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