Heavy rains and severe flash floods have left more than 300 people dead and displaced thousands of others across parts of east Africa, with Kenya and Rwanda being the worst hit.
“We are concerned about the flooding that has displaced so many people in Somalia, Kenya and Rwanda,” said Farhan Aziz Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN secretary general in a statement to the Guardian.
“Our hearts go out to all the people who have been harmed by the rains and flash floods,” he said.
In Kenya ongoing torrential rains have damaged infrastructure, preventing or limiting humanitarian access to many of the affected areas and cutting off people’s access to markets in several places.
“Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that heavy rainfall in Kenya has caused severe flooding in at least 32 counties, out of 47, across the country. An estimated 100 peoplehave lost their lives and 260,000 others have been displaced,” said Haq.
Euloge Ishimwe, of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said it is a “double jeopardy” for the affected communities, as many of them are already struggling to recover from the devastating drought in 2017, after which more than 2.6 million Kenyanswere in urgent need of food aid.
“The livelihoods and resilience of the affected communities had already been weakened… With the flooding, we are worried that these communities will be further rendered more vulnerable.”
The extreme weather has compounded a cholera outbreak in the country as well as an epidemic of the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus, and is increasing the risk of large-scale outbreaks.
The number of cholera cases reported since the beginning of 2018 stands at 2,943, with 55 deaths, according to the UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Unocha).
In a statement, Unocha said education and health facilities have been damaged in the flooding, and the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) said roads and train lines had been destroyed. Extensive damages and losses have been reported to fields and livestock, with at least 8,700 hectares (21,5000) acres of farmland destroyed and more than 19,000 animals killed.
IFRC and KRCS have launched an international emergency appeal for provision of shelter and settlement, health and nutrition, water and sanitation and food for 150,000 people.
On Sunday 6 May, landslips triggered by heavy rains killed at least 18 people in Rwanda, taking the death toll to 201 in the past four months, according to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (Midimar). Some 5,000 hectares of crops and nearly 10,000 houses were destroyed, as well as roads, churches and bridges.
In Somalia, flash and river flooding has so far affected an estimated 630,000 people, with about 215,000 displaced following the heavy rains across the country in April, according to UN figures.
The Juba and Shabelle, Somalia’s two major rivers, have burst their banks in several locations, causing flooding much earlier in the season than ever before.
Save the Children warned that the Somali families displaced by drought and near-famine conditions last year are now on the move again, with the catastrophic flash flooding leaving them more vulnerable to malnutrition and diseases such as acute watery diarrhoea and cholera.
“The flooding is compounding an already fragile humanitarian situation with an estimated 5.4 million people in need of assistance in Somalia, 2.7 million of whom require urgent life-saving assistance,” said the charity.
“Somalia’s humanitarian response plan is only 18% funded, which is insufficient to support on-going operations to stave off famine as well as a flood response.”
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the floods in Somalia are some of the worst the region has ever seen.
As the rainy season enters peak levels, Uganda’s ministry of disaster preparedness last week issued a public risk alert, warning of episodic flash floods and landslides that would lead to loss of lives and destruction of property in May.
Hillary Onek, Uganda’s minister for disaster preparedness, appealed to more than 100,000 families – about 800,000 people – who are at risk of landslides and floods in eastern and western mountainous regions.
“We have issued a public warning. We call people living in mountainous and low-lying areas to be more vigilant and move to safer areas during heavy rainfall,” said Onek.
Source: THE GUARDIAN