, NAIROBI, Kenya, April 3 – The Kenya Red Cross Society now says over 10,000 people have been displaced and marooned by floods after heavy rains pounded parts of Tana River district in the Coast province.
The society’s spokesman Titus Mung’ou said majority of the people were yet to be moved to safer grounds as the roads and bridges in the area had been swept away making movement difficult.
Mr Mung’ou who said the situation had become worse after the River Tana burst its banks but added that the humanitarian organisation would provide temporary shelter, tarpaulins, medical assistance, food aid and other forms of aid to the displaced.
“There is indication that there are more than 13,000 people who require urgent relief because they cannot access any areas where there is food. So far, this is the situation that the team has reported but they are still conducting assessments on the ground and we are yet to get the exact numbers,” he said.
The spokesperson was also quick to add that it was not yet clear whether any lives had been lost after River Tana burst its banks following heavy overnight rains.
He also said the Red Cross had dispatched a response team to the affected district to assess the situation on the ground and ascertain the way forward.
“These people who have been affected by floods would have received relief from Garissa where we also have warehouses but nobody can access it. There are no other routes to enter Tana River; some bridges have been swept away. The idea here is to find alternative routes to access relief and that’s the Kitui one,” he said.
Mr Mung’ou further added that the floods which started at the beginning of the year in various parts of the country have claimed more than 70 lives.
“In January to February about 42 lives were claimed; March had the highest number with about 31 and there are still those that were not accounted for. But there are about 15,000 displaced or needing some kind of relief assistance,” he said.
He also added that things could get worse if the rains continued with similar vigour and that Red Cross would have to enhance its aid providing capacity.
“With the torrential rains (as predicted by the meteorological department) we should be expect this number to increase,” he said.
Mr Mung’ou who termed the floods situation as grave also added that getting relief aid to the flood victims was challenging and that some of the victims had not accessed relief aid for the past week after the areas were cut off.
He explained that aid to the victims in Tana River would have come from the society’s offices in northern Kenya (which had been cut off) were it not for the floods.
“Aid used to come from our stores in Garissa but for the last one week nothing has come through. Only a few who make it to higher grounds with their donkeys have been able to at least get some food. That is the reason why it is crucial to get food to them. Assistance now has to come from the Eastern part of Kitui,” he said.
The society also appealed to Kenyans of goodwill to donate aid to the flood victims, “We cannot say that we meet all the needs of the people. The government sometimes comes in but we need to boost our capacities.”