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KENYA: Floods, rains wreak havoc

NAIROBI, 6 December 2011 (IRIN) - Heavy rains in Kenya have washed away bridges and rendered many roads impassable, complicating efforts to reach thousands of people made homeless by the flooding, an official of the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) told IRIN.

"We are currently undertaking an assessment through our branches countrywide to establish the magnitude of the problem [and identify] the most vulnerable of those affected and areas which we have not reached because of logistical challenges," Nelly Muluka, the KRCS public relations and communications officer, said on 5 December.

So far, Muluka said, at least a dozen people have died and more than 40,000 others have been affected since the start of short rains in October.

"Three people died in a mudslide in Keiyo [North Rift] three days ago, bringing the number of those who have died in the [Rift Valley] province to five since October; seven have died in Nyanza [western Kenya] and two at the Coast," Muluka said. "We are concerned about the livelihoods of those displaced by floods or heavy rain in various parts of the country and we have started distributing non-food items to those we have been able to reach.

"In Garbatula [Isiolo district] for instance, hundreds of farmers have lost crops... we now have to look ahead and see how they will be assisted in terms of livelihood support," Muluka said. "In other areas, there is the danger of waterborne diseases breaking out after latrines and boreholes were submerged and in other areas, water pipelines have burst."

According to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), whose monitors are on the ground in northern Kenya, floods have affected all of Isiolo County, with Ewaso Nyiro River bursting its banks. Garfarsa, Kombola, Sericho, Merti and Garbatula are some of the worst-affected areas, KNCHR said.

The displaced and those affected by the floods urgently require relief aid such as food, mosquito nets, tents, blankets, cooking utensils and medicine. KNCHR said the situation had been especially dire for 21 people who had been marooned in the past six days on higher ground between two streams in Merti. The group was taken to Merti town by helicopter on 5 December.

River Nzoia burst its banks on 3 December, displacing thousands of people in Budalang'i, Bunyala and Funyula areas of western Kenya. Thousands are also displaced in Nyando and Nyatike areas in Nyanza, as well in Coast Province.

Teams comprising government, KRCS and UN officials are involved in rapid assessments of the flooding situation, a humanitarian official, who requested anonymity, told IRIN.

In October, flash floods in Coast Province claimed several lives, damaged schools and destroyed sewage systems. Some of the affected areas included Changamwe, Kisauni, Kongowea and Likoni estates in Mombasa, where flood waters submerged large areas, making it difficult for residents to access clean water.

In November, the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System issued a flood alert for Kenya, after more than 300 families were displaced and livestock swept away by flash floods in Wajir, northern Kenya; and 5,000 families relocated to higher ground in Kerio Valley in Rift Valley Province.

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Theme (s): Early Warning, Environment, Food Security, Water & Sanitation,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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