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May 20, 2018

Death toll hits 113 as 10 counties flooded

The aftermath of heavy rains. /KRCS
The aftermath of heavy rains. /KRCS

At least 113 people have died in the last two months and another 260,0000 displaced as raging floods wreak havoc across the country.

And yet weather experts are warning of more heavy rains in the next few days in an unusual departure from traditional weather patterns.

The Ministry of Devolution, the United Nations office in Nairobi and the Red Cross say 10 counties are the worst affected.

“We are doing our very best to help all Kenyans affected by the heavy rains,” Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa told the Star from Benin where he is on official duty.

The aftermath of heavy rains. /KRCS

The aftermath of heavy rains. /KRCS

The aftermath of heavy rains. /KRCS

Ironically, the counties worst hit are those previously ravaged by drought. Major roads, learning institutions, medical facilities and community water systems have been rendered unusable.

The catastrophe has raised the risk of the outbreak of diseases such as cholera, as latrines have collapsed or been flooded.

Tana River was the worst hit with more than 70 per cent of the expansive county submerged. The Ministry of Devolution, county governments, Kenya Defence Forces and the Red Cross were grappling with surging floodwaters that swept away houses, livestock and household property. More than 100,000 people have been left homeless.  

Other hard-hit areas are Kilifi, Garissa, Wajir, Kisumu, Mandera, Isiolo, Turkana, Samburu, Baringo and Kajiado. Residents say they have never experienced such rain for years. Essential commodities and services such as food, water and medicine have become luxuries to the residents of these marginalised areas.

An estimated 205 schools have closed in the 10 counties. According to statistics, Tana River (71 schools), Garissa (49), Wajir (42), Baringo (5), Samburu (8) and Kisumu (15) have suffered damage, flooding, collapsed latrines or destruction of education materials.

Eleven schools have been turned into shelters for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Garissa and Tana River, making it impossible for pupils to sturdy.

The spread of communicable diseases remains a concern, with five counties — Garissa, Isiolo, Meru, Turkana and West Pokot — facing active cholera outbreaks, according to ministry officials. 

Read: Cholera, typhoid fear in disease outbreak

Also read: Nationwide disaster

A Red Cross member carries an elderly person to safety following heavy rains./KRCS

Red Cross members distribute food and other items to flood victims following heavy rains. /KRCS

Some of the help offered by the Kenya Red Cross Society following heavy rains across the country. /KRCS

ANIMAL DISEASE

Three counties — Kilifi, Lamu and Mombasa — have reported cases of the mosquito-borne chikungunya disease, and the latest reports indicate that Rift Valley fever has been detected in animals in Baringo county, increasing the risk of animal-to-human transmission.

The Ministry of Health and its partners have revised the cholera and chikungunya response plan and mobilised internal resources, including county emergency funds, to respond to the outbreaks.

“Community mobilisation is ongoing to raise awareness of measures to ensure access to safe water and safe excreta disposal in cholera-affected areas,” Health Cabinet Secretary Cecily Kariuki said  yesterday.

“The overall response to the floods has, however, been inhibited by access challenges as many areas are not reachable due to damaged or impassable roads," she said.

Some of the help offered by the Kenya Red Cross Society following heavy rains across the country. /KRCS

Red Cross members assist people in flooded regions following heavy rains. /KRCS

A Red Cross member and police help a person in an area affected by heavy rains. /KRCS

Efforts to rescue some of the most distressed areas have hit a brick wall, as the floods have cut off key access roads. But the Red Cross and Unicef managed to provide non-food item kits to 13,040 households in Tana River, Homa Bay, Nakuru, Isiolo, Moyale, Taita Taveta, Kilifi and Lodwar.

The capital, Nairobi, has not been spared. Moi Avenue, Tom Mboya, Racecourse Road, Ronald Ngala Street and Haile Selassie Avenue were hit by the heavy rains.

On Monday, the Kenya Meteorological Department warned that Lang’ata Road, Forest Road, South B, Kilimani and Syokimau should brace for flash floods starting this week.

The Nairobi-Narok highway has been cut off at least four times since the rains started, with a section of the road at Suswa being susceptible every time heavy rains pound the area.

Other main roads affected around the country included Karimboini-Garasha road (Kilifi county), Garissa-Tana River, Marigat-Chemolingot (Baringo) and Nanyuki-Dol Dol, which had been cut off.

At least 42 health facilities across the country have been closed either due to flooding or inaccessibility of roads, the Kenya Red Cross Society said.

“In Wajir, Isiolo, Mandera, Marsabit, Tana River and Garissa counties, transportation of humanitarian supplies has been hampered due to roads being cut off. In the Northeastern counties, access to the most vulnerable communities in rural areas continues to be a challenge due to impassable roads,” the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs says in its latest update.

In its May projection, the Kenya Meteorological Department says that Western and Central parts of the country could suffer from floods, as the two regions are likely to experience “above-normal” rainfall.

More on this: Met says it’s going to be another wet week

Also see: EXPERT COMMENT: Declare floods national disaster NOW

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