Kenya: Help needed for people displaced by flooding

MSF calls for more concerted efforts in assisting populations displaced by floods in Tana River Delta region, Kenya
MSFA child stands outside a makeshift shelter that her parents put up after being displaced from their home in Chewele.

Nairobi, 19 April 2013 - After weeks of flooding, the people of Tana Delta Region are still in urgent need of food, shelter, access to clean drinking water and medical services, says the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). MSF is calling for more concerted efforts to provide food and other basic items to the hundreds of people displaced by the floods in Tana Delta region.  

MSF has been working in the area since the onset of the floods providing medical care and non-medical supplies to the displaced. As many people were unable to bring any supplies with them when they moved to higher ground, we have distributed kits of non-food items including mosquito nets and plastic sheeting for shelter to over 900 families in the IDP camps, where we are present. However, there is an urgent need for food supplies as many people have seen their crops destroyed and their livestock drown.

“I left Chewele a week and a half ago after losing all my things in the floods. At least I managed to move with all my five children thanks to the efforts of my community. All our goats and other cattle drowned. Now I’m here and have received utensils, but there is nothing to cook!” says 36 year old Riziki Juma from Chewele, now living in Molokani camp.

Nearly 7000 residents of Tana Delta region, displaced by the recent floods do not have access to proper healthcare since the existing facilities are experiencing drug shortages, while other people have been cut off completely as the water levels continue to rise.

In a span of two weeks, MSF has carried out consultations and treated around 700 IDPs in Bura for different diseases, the most common being Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI), Non-bloody diarrhoea, Gastroenteritis and Parasitic Diseases. These populations have no access to health care due to difficulties in accessing health facilities. Moreover, there is shortage of drugs and lack of staff in some health centres. . “Many people who reach here suffer from different diseases. I have chest pains; others are suffering from different cases. It is good that we can get medical attention on arrival.” Says Nura Abdala, a mother of three from Shika Adabu location now displaced to Molokani camp.

Heavy rains, that started three weeks ago, led to the Tana River bursting its banks and causing floods all over the area. The quality of water is poor due to the floods and latrines have collapsed. MSF is supporting the local community in Bura and Garsen areas and in Dalango and Molokani IDP camps to build new latrines and providing basic water and sanitation services like water treatment using purification tablets.

“We are concerned about the threat of waterborne and vector borne disease outbreaks, which are common in situations of flooding. We are monitoring the situation so that we can detect and mitigate any disease outbreaks in a timely manner.” Says Martha Kihara, MFS’s Deputy Medical Coordinator, in Kenya.

MSF has been working in Kenya since 1987. MSF is monitoring the situation in other areas affected by floods in Nyanza and Turkana.  The organisation also has projects in Kibera, Mathare, Homa Bay and Daadab refugee camp. MSF responds to medical emergencies in the country.