The Heat Is Online

Kenya Flooding Displaces 150,000

Floods kill 20 Kenyans, displace 150,000, May 9, 2002

NAIROBI - Floods and landslides have killed 20 Kenyans and forced up to 150,000 to leave their homes, raising fears of a cholera outbreak as victims huddle in makeshift shelters, the Red Cross said yesterday.

The Kenyan branch of the Red Cross relief agency warned that flood victims uprooted by several weeks of torrential rain were in urgent need of health and sanitation assistance to stave off the threat of water borne diseases.

"People's houses have been totally waterlogged," Abbas Gullet, Secretary-General of the Kenya Red Cross Society, told Reuters. "The after effects are going to be enormous," he said after conducting an aerial survey in western Kenya.

An official at the government's National Disaster Operations Centre said heavy rains had triggered several landslides that killed 15 people in the past two weeks, while a further five people had been swept away by floodwater.

He declined to give an official government estimate of the number of displaced in the country of 30 million.

The Daily Nation newspaper reported that at least 30 people had been killed by floods and mudslides caused by the downpours, including 12 people the paper said were buried alive when a landslide struck a village in central Kenya last week.

The Red Cross said the worst-hit places were low-lying areas near Lake Victoria in western Kenya, where rivers burst their banks, submerging fields and washing away roads.

Gullet said between 120,000 to 130,000 people had been driven from their houses in the western Nyanza province, while up to 20,000 had been displaced elsewhere in Kenya.

An official at Kenya's National Meteorological Centre said the rains were likely to continue in western Kenya for at least the next few weeks.

Another Kenya Red Cross official said the floods were among the worst to hit the country since 1998, when heavy rains linked to the El Nino phenomenon killed more than 80 people in 24 hours.


Flooding Rains in Kenya Claim 53 Lives

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 13, 2002 (ENS) - Heavy rains across much of East Africa this month have proved deadly, particularly in Kenya. Floods and landslides in Kenya have killed at least 53 people including nine people who died following a violent thunderstorm in Nairobi Sunday.

The destructive storms have displaced more than 150,000 people, according to official sources and media reports.

Bridges and roads have been swept away and schools are closed in many parts of the country.

"These floods are the worst to hit the country since 1997, when heavy rains linked to the El Niño phenomenon killed more than 80 people in 24 hours", says Abbas Gullet, secretary general of the Kenya Red Cross who just returned from an assessment in the flooded area.

Heavy rains around Mount Kenya caused two mudslides in central Kenya where 15 people died when mud flowed into their homes on April 30 and May 4.

Torrential rains in the western districts of Migori, bordering Lake Victoria and Tanzania, made the Kuja and Migori rivers burst their banks, flooding many areas of the Nyanza province. Severe flooding has been reported in the districts of Kisumu and Busia in the vicinity of Lake Victoria.

Nyando and Kisumu districts are the most devastated and areas where the population is in the greatest need. In Nyando District, 2,800 families were surrounded by raging waters and relief assistance could not get through.

The only direct road linking Murang’a to the capital Nairobi was cut off after a bridge was washed away by flood waters at Saba Saba.

Other districts near the Somali border and Nairobi are also affected by heavy rains.

Police in Nairobi confirmed that two people were electrocuted and a third one was struck dead by lightning within the city, while two adult males and a woman and her baby were swept away by flood waters.

There is special concern about villages and towns near the Tana River. It is feared that three hydroelectric dams along this river will overflow within the coming days due to water running down from Mount Kenya. One of the major dams on the Tana river is already at its maximum capacity. The towns of Garissa and Hola are at a very high risk.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is launching an appeal for US$1.04 million to enable the Kenya Red Cross Society to assist 125,000 people. The funds will be used to provide flood victims with shelter materials and emergency relief items.

"We call on sister Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as well as other local and international donors to support the Kenya Red Cross in its remarkable efforts to alleviate the suffering of fellow countrymen affected by this disaster", says Françoise Le Goff, Head of the Federation's Regional Delegation in Nairobi.

Among the most urgently needed items are blankets, tarpaulins, jerry cans, mosquito nets and water purification tablets.

Throughout the affected area, wells and latrines have been flooded out, which has resulted in a shortage of drinking and cooking water and has increased the risk of an outbreak of water borne diseases.

The National Disaster Operations Centre in the Office of the President yesterday expressed concern about an outbreak of cholera around the Kenya border with Somalia.

The East Africa Standard in an editorial today blamed the government's forest policy for the killer floods. "The destruction of forests is the main reason for the current flooding and landslides that have hit the country," the newspaper said.

"Unless we re-assess the continuing destruction of forests, and grabbing, the repercussions will be catastrophic," said the editorial.

More heavy rains are predicted as the long seasonal rains are expected to run through June.