KENYA: Flood-hit coastal families need aid

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Hundreds of families affected by flash floods caused by heavy rainfall along Kenya's Indian Ocean coastal region in the past month need food aid and other humanitarian assistance, relief workers said.

"We require at least 10 metric tonnes of food aid," said Elina Mapenzi, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) branch coordinator for Kilifi district.

Kilifi, along with neighbouring Mombasa, Malindi and Kwale districts, as well as Lamu farther north, has been hit by torrential rainfall since mid-May. At least 500 households in Kilifi alone have been affected by the flooding, with many homes submerged and houses collapsing under water.

With more rainfall expected in the region, the number of affected people is likely to rise, Mapenzi said. Newly planted fields have been inundated and crops destroyed even as the seeds germinated, putting people at risk of longer-term food insecurity. "There is a need for relief seeds," Mapenzi said.

There is also the threat of waterborne diseases. "We are seeing a lot of leeches in the stagnant water, which is serving as a mosquito breeding ground," she added.

Flooded and collapsed pit latrines could easily contaminate drinking-water sources, putting more people at risk of diseases. "With most of the people relying on shallow wells for drinking water there is a need for water purification," she said. Most of those who have lost their homes to flooding have moved in with relatives, according to Mapenzi.

Some roads have been damaged, making the movement of people and goods difficult.

The KRCS has been providing affected families with non-food items, including tarpaulins, kitchen sets and mosquito nets, in addition to food aid. The Ministry of Health is also expected to supply water purification tablets and spray the stagnant pools of water with insecticides.


Source: IRIN