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Fear of increased food insecurity, malnutrition, and disease outbreaks as thousands of people are displaced by severe, deadly flooding.
For several weeks, Kenya has been experiencing heavy rainfall and severe flooding. Rivers are overflowing, and the high waters have caused deaths, displacement, and damage to crops, roads, homes, and other key infrastructure. The rains follow a severe drought that affected more than four million Kenyans, many of whom were driven into food insecurity and poverty and have not yet recovered.
According to the latest reports, 33 people have so far died in the floods and 281,880 people have been impacted across Kenya. More than 121,505 people have been displaced and more than 7,600 livestock have died.
Weather reports predict that more rain will pound the country over the next five days, putting countless more families in danger. Warnings to prepare and evacuate are being delivered to high-risk communities through media and social media, public address systems, and community health volunteers.
The Kenyan government is grappling with how to respond and meet increased needs in the face of this humanitarian crisis. Flooded communities urgently need access to food, water, sanitation, and hygiene services, shelter, and resources to rescue people and support those displaced by the floods. Action Against Hunger is currently responding to help people in Mandera and Isiolo counties, some of the country’s hardest-hit areas.
Most of Mandera County – located in northeastern Kenya on the border with Somalia – has been flooded after the water broke the banks of the Dawabroke River, impacting 34,845 households. More than 9,400 farmers have been affected by the floods, which have left more than 25,500 acres of farmland completely submerged, killed 2,621 livestock, and destroyed crops that people and animals depend on. So far, seven people have died in the flooding in Mandera, and there have been reports of gender-based violence among those displaced.
Water systems in Mandera County have been severely damaged: 48 water reservoirs have overflowed and 1,617 wells have been completely submerged. Additionally, 33 health facilities and 3,225 latrines have been flooded. Mandera already faces a measles outbreak, and officials fear the spread of more disease among both people and livestock.
The local economy is also suffering — 386 small or medium-sized businesses saw their buildings impacted by the floods and a major town market was forced to close. Roads have been washed out, cutting communities off from food supplies and forcing prices for what little supplies remain to spike. Heavy rains are predicted for Mandera County from now until the end of January 2024, and the situation is expected to deteriorate even further.
In Isiolo County, central Kenya, more than 64,000 people have been impacted by the floods, with hundreds displaced. The Ewaso Nyiro River overflowed, destroying roads and cutting entire villages off from markets, medical supplies, and other essential services. Homes, farms, and water sources have also been devastated, leaving families at high risk of hunger and water-borne diseases.
“The road to Bassa village has been impassable for the last two weeks. Food is scarce and the little available is very expensive. There are no staple foods like maize flour and rice in the market. High numbers of children have diarrhea. We need immediate support with food and medicine, even if it is through airlifting.” – A religious leader in Bassa village.
Within Isiolo, the Merti sub-county saw four inches of rain fall in a single night, and this heavy downpour displaced more than 3,500 people. The primary town in Merti had its water system destroyed by the floods, along with hundreds of latrines. As a result, diarrhea is on the rise among children under five years old – one child has already reportedly died of severe dehydration. As more people turn to contaminated water to survive, the situation is likely to worsen.
“All the houses and toilets in this village have been destroyed including those belonging to the elderly,” says a village leader in Shauri Yako. “We are living inside the toilet, the water you can see flowing in our houses is mixed with human waste.”
Action Against Hunger is responding to the floods in Mandera and Isiolo by distributing water, sanitation, and hygiene supplies, helping to decontaminate water and rebuild latrines, providing cholera prevention kits in hotspots, as well as distributing mattresses, mosquito nets, and tarps to serve as temporary shelters for families displaced by the floods.
We aim to scale up our work to help families hit hard by the floods, and we urge donors to step up their support for affected communities. In addition to supporting coordination between government and humanitarian relief agencies, our planned response includes:
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