Nearly 3,000 displaced, schools submerged by floods

Nearly 3,000 people have been displaced and eight killed by floods in several districts of Kenya as fears mount that more rivers could burst their banks, the Kenya Red Cross (KRC) said on Thursday. Six schools had been inundated by the floods, it added.

"Altogether, about 15,000 people have been affected, especially in western Kenya where River Nyando is still rising," Tony Mwangi, the KRC public relations officer, told IRIN. "River Nzoia in Busia [District in the west] and the Tana river at the coast are also rising."

The displaced, he added, included 2,500 in Nyando District, about 500 km west of Nairobi. They also include 218 in Homa Bay and a number of others in Taita Taveta District which, like Homa Bay, is in Coast Province, and the capital, Nairobi. Some 50 ha of crops had also been destroyed by torrential rains in Homa Bay, he said.

Meanwhile, an estimated 184,000 people faced food shortages in the northwestern districts of Turkana and Marsabit, the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning System (FEWS-Net) reported on Tuesday. Malnutrition rates in the two districts, it added, had exceeded the World Health Organisation's "critical threshold" of 15 percent.

The report said the alarming food security situation had resulted from a series of successive droughts between 1996 and 2000, a current drought, and insecurity, especially in Turkana. The districts are inhabited mainly by pastoralists.

According to FEWS-Net, an assessment had revealed that an additional 899,025 people in several pastoral districts were also moderately food insecure. But the Ministry of Agriculture, it added, expected that this year's maize harvest in the country would be larger than last year's.