The Kenya Meteorological Department had earlier predicted that the country was to experience an El Nino phenomenon this year with enhanced rainfall being expected during October to December in most parts of Kenya particularly parts of Rift Valley, Nairobi and the North East. These predictions have proved to be true with most of the highlighted areas experiencing above normal rainfall which has caused flooding in various parts of the country. The cessation of these rains is predicted for mid-end of January 2013.
The experienced rains have resulted in flooding in the Rift Valley and Western regions of the country. Also, due to the cessation still being a few weeks away, it is expected that earlier flooded areas where the ground is still saturated will be pounded by more rains with increased possibility of further flooding in the same areas. Most of these areas have received more than 100% of the annual mean precipitation.
The areas most affected are within Keiyo, Marakwet and West Pokot districts in the North Rift Region. This region is prone to mudslides which have so farclaimed the lives of 13 people who were caught in their sleep by the sudden mudslide fall. Three years ago the same areas experienced mudslides which claimed 14 lives. In the low lying plains of Kano in West Kenya Region the floods have affected the following districts; Nyando, Nyakach, Muhoroni, Kisumu East and Rachuonyo. These areas received above average rainfall within a short period and were inundated with flood waters from the Rift Valley Regions, which is in the Kenya highlands.
So far the populations that were marooned have been evacuated by the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) and Government of Kenya officials and are now being safely assisted in evacuation camps within schools and churches. The floods have created a potentially hazardous public heath situation with the schools not equipped to cater for the sanitation needs of so many displaced people. Further, the water supply sources have been contaminated by large number of latrines which have collapsed emptying there content into the water sources. The likelihood of diarrheal and other water borne diseases remains a major concern.
Also, the Western region is a malaria endemic zone and flood waters means increased breeding places for mosquitoes. Concerns on how to prevent malaria prevalence amongst the vulnerable population of children under five years and pregnant women coupled with the looming outbreak of diarrheal disease has informed some of the KRCS activities to date.
Between the 20th to the 28th of December, 2012 the Rift Valley region received above normal rainfall. As a result of the heavy rainfall in the region, several areas and especially in areas around Lake Baringo experienced flooding due to Lake Baringo receiving higher run off from rivers Perkera and Indo, causing populations to be displaced and moved to the neighboring villages. Areas in Keiyo South, Pokot South, Mt.Elgon and Nandi Hills experienced landslides. Keiyo south and Pokot south districts experienced more the adverse effects of land/mudslides causing death, displacement of people, destruction of houses and property and loss of animals and food crops.
In Keiyo district, the land/mudslide occurred in two locations; Sogom and Kaptarakwa locations whereby eight villages experienced the adverse effects of landslides. A total of 13 people among them 8 children died while 203 families were displaced. The displaced families were evacuated to public institutions, churches and markets which were safer grounds and provided temporary settlement of the families.
In the West Kenya catchment areas, heavy rains that started in December and have been continuing since then. Following the rains River Nyando, Awach, and Sondu broke their banks hence causing flooding in several villages across the region. The water level in River Nzoia is way above the alert level and communities are currently being advised to move to safer grounds.
The KRCS in the recent past has been responding to emergencies which have arisen as a result of continuous conflict related to this year’s forthcoming elections on March 4th, 2013. The conflict and the resultant humanitarian situation in the Coast, Rift Valley, and North-Eastern have resulted in over 130 deaths and major displacement across the country. Due to its activities in the conflict response, the KRCS has over stretched its resources and is currently launching a DREF appeal with the IFRC to raise resources to effectively respond to the flooding disasters which ave been recently encountered.