Call for support of Kenyans affected by heavy flooding

Published: 6 May 2013 10:32 CET

By Katherine Mueller, IFRC

With brown muddy water reaching above their knees, people affected by flooding across Kenya wade to higher, drier patches of land. Dirt roads have proven to be no match for the rising waters. Mud and thatch homes have crumbled across the region. Acres of farmland have been washed away or submerged. Dams are overflowing and thousands are homeless. More than 70 people have died.

This is how the long rain season affects Kenya. Rains started in the first week of March and are expected to last into June. Even coastal regions which are not directly affected by the rains are inundated by the water flowing in from upstream.

When the waters started rising, the Kenya Red Cross Society responded immediately, deploying scores of volunteers to assist with search and rescue operations. Now, with support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies an emergency appeal has been issued to assist 52,000 people over the coming six months.

“The damage that has taken place in these communities in terms of their food and housing is enormous and will have repercussions for them for many months to come,” said Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of Kenya Red Cross Society. “For some, they will be affected for years because they have lost everything they had.”

Approximately 60,000 people have sought refuge in camps across the country. The Red Cross, together with government and corporate partners, is providing much needed support. “We are now setting up fully-fledged operations in these camps to provide clean water to drink, health care through mobile clinics and food with support from the government,” said Gullet.

The goal, however, is to get people back into their own communities as soon as possible once the water recedes. This will be supplemented by the distribution of seeds and tools to make use of the fertile land that awaits planting.

Safaricom, a telecom provider in Kenya which joined forces with the Red Cross for the very successful Kenyans for Kenya fundraising drive during the 2011 drought, has responded again. The company has donated 10 million Kenyan shillings (118,000 USD) to support the Red Cross in its emergency and long-term response. “We are partners. And partners come to the aid of each other. We applaud Kenya Red Cross Society for always coming to the aid of the nation when we need it,” said Bob Collymore, CEO Safaricom Foundation. “We appeal to all corporates to step up and really help these guys get back on their feet.”

The emergency appeal is for 3.5 million Swiss francs (3.8 million USD), and to date, is zero per cent covered.