Thousands of people have been displaced in parts of Kenya’s Rift Valley Province as floodwaters continue to submerge houses and schools and destroy crops.
They are among more than 240,000 people throughout eastern Africa who are estimated to be affected by seasonal flooding.
An estimated 642 households have been affected by flooding in the Kenyan districts of Baringo and Marigat, with at least five schools being submerged, according to data from the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS).
The floods have caused latrines to overflow, contaminating water sources. “I have no better water to drink. I have to use what is readily available, even if I am aware of the risk of contracting diseases,” Lydiah Kuyale, a resident of Loropil Village in Marigat, told IRIN as she fetched flood water for domestic use.
Kuyale’s retail kiosk was among those inundated. But even as her family seeks refuge at a neighbour’s house, her main worry is her son’s education.
“If the classes remain submerged, how will my son get to school?” she asked. Her son is set to take the final primary school exam later this year.
Chicken farmer John Ledapana is also assessing his losses after most of his poultry were swept away by the floodwaters, leaving him with only six 3-week-old chicks.
In Marigat District, two rivers that feed Lake Baringo have breached their banks, overflowing into neighbouring villages. Lake Baringo has extended its banks by up to 1.km, according to the KRCS, which warned that a further 290 families are at risk of displacement if the rains continue.
The agency recommended that the river beds be excavated to improve water retention in the rivers and that dams be constructed upstream to control the volume of water reaching the lake.
According to the KRCS, the affected families are in need of emergency food supplies after at least 26 hectares of maize - which had been ready for harvesting - were destroyed. Fodder, beans and water melon crops have also been ruined.
The delivery of relief items such as medicine, blankets, tents and mosquito nets has been hampered by poor road conditions.
Medical supplies and equipment have also been destroyed by floodwaters in some dispensaries, even as affected populations are threatened by waterborne diseases. “We can only go to the district hospital in Marigat, but it is hard to raise the 400 Kenya shillings (US$ 4.7) transport expenses,” said a resident.
During a recent visit to a medical camp hosted by KRCS in Ngambo Village, most of the sick children were found to be suffering from diarrhoea, upper respiratory tract infections and septic wounds.
“Adults have the same problems but at a lesser number than the children,” Evelyn Lorgisoi, a volunteer clinical officer, told IRIN.
In the neighbouring Baringo District, another 46 families are living in tents after being displaced by mudslides that struck the Sacho and Kabarnet areas. The mudslides killed two children, ages 12 and 15, and injured seven other people.
The displaced are now seeking refuge in the Kabasis, Kituro, Tartar and Timboiywa areas.
KRCS has identified 407 other families at risk of being affected by mudslides.
About 9 hectares of crops have been destroyed by the mudslides], and some roads have been rendered impassable, said Rift Valley Regional Disaster Management Officer Kennedy Mulama.
“Volunteers are also supporting communities through the dissemination of early warning systems for immediate evacuation of people on noticing signs of mudslides,” said Mulama.