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Emergency Update: Flood Relief in Kenya

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This is an update about our flood response. Click here to read the original appeal.

CWS is responding to massive, deadly flooding in two parts of Kenya: West Pokot County and the Tana River delta. In both areas, we have responded with a month of emergency food rations for families who were living in temporary camps. We have also provided seeds for vegetables with a short harvest season. When families return home, they can plant the seeds and have a quick crop to eat.

West Pokot County

In December, our team was in West Pokot County to distribute food and supplies. “I and our team just returned from our relief mission to the hardest to reach communities in West Pokot, having provided food aid and blankets to 4,500 of the most vulnerable women, children and the elderly who have lost everything in the ongoing disaster. Up at nearly 10,000 feet in the highlands, it was bitterly cold, with a biting wind. The rains have been truly unprecedented. What we saw was heartbreaking, and what we experienced was great joy in being received by the people and their leaders,” wrote CWS Regional Representative Tom Tauras at the time.

We distributed food rations to 750 households. Each family received maize flour, rice, beans, oil and salt. Along with the food, each family received four blankets. Julia Domokira was one of the recipients. The devastating landslide in West Pokot claimed two of her four children when the hillside collapsed and slid out from under her family’s home. One child was killed, and another was carried away by the mud. When we met Julia a month later, her child was still missing. Since her home was destroyed, Julia and her family were living in a tent in a camp. Conditions in the camp are deplorable, and Julia longs to turn time back just a few weeks to when her family and her home were complete. Although nothing will ever bring back what she lost, Julia said she was grateful for the supplies that CWS brought and hopes that we will continue to walk with her on her journey.

Tana River County

A few weeks later, our team was in the Tana River delta for a similar distribution. This region has been pummeled again and again by a disaster cycle that is getting worse with climate change. In 2017 the area faced extreme drought. Then in 2018, massive floods submerged 70 percent of the county. In 2019 the droughts were back, and Tana River County was among the hardest hit regions of the country. Then the flooding displaced or affected 18,000 households in late 2019. The floods swept away houses and destroyed thousands of acres of valuable crop land, robbing families of their livelihoods. Affected families have been living in temporary camps, and their needs are dire.

In January, CWS brought food and seeds to 1,000 households. Many were still living in temporary camps, while others had started salvaging and moving back to their homes. In a matter of a few hours, we distributed supplies to thousands of people to ease the burdens currently on their shoulders. Each family received maize flour, rice, beans, cooking oil and salt. They also received seeds like mung beans, watermelon and tomatoes. We chose these seeds since we knew that they would grow well in the area and would be ready to harvest quickly.

Hadija Ghamaked is among the recipients in Tana River. “We’ve really suffered due to heavy rainfall and floods. Floods swept away our equipment and destroyed our houses. Our farms also got destroyed. We relocated to this area and we are really suffering due to both heavy rains and scorching sun,” she said. “We thank CWS for giving us seeds to plant.” Her neighbor, Hawa Hamisi, added, “Our main problem is a lack of clean water and that our farm produce got destroyed. All of our farming tools were swept away. We requested aid from all corners, but luckily CWS heard our prayer. We are really thankful.”

What's next

The threats have not fully dissipated, and families will need a lot more support as they continue on the road to recovery. Rains are still falling in some parts of Kenya, which is threatening to disrupt the upcoming planting season. A locust invasion is threatening to wipe out green vegetation, which could have devastating impacts for families in rural areas who rely on agriculture. Kenya is facing down a bigger food crisis that could emerge in the coming months. Focusing on early recovery is critical at this point. CWS plans to use funds from this appeal to help families repair their homes and water systems and rebuild or start livelihoods.