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Floods after Drought Cause Chaos in Kenya
(06 June 2006)
Floods have caused chaos in Kenya
Seasonal rains in Kenya should have brought relief to its drought-stricken regions. Instead the heavy rainfall has caused flash floods in many places.
Seasonal rains in Kenya should have brought relief to its drought-stricken regions. Instead the heavy rainfall has caused flash floods in many places.

The Horn of Africa food crisis is still threatening the lives of around 15 million people across five countries - Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea.

The drought and long-term deforestation destroyed vegetation, causing soil erosion and creating conditions leading to flash flooding.

Roads Destroyed

The floods have destroyed roads and washed away bridges, blocking humanitarian access to isolated communities. Thousands of people have also been forced to flee their riverbank homes.

Temperatures have fallen suddenly with the rains, leading to an increase in respiratory problems such as pneumonia. The temperature drop also kills off livestock already weakened by hunger.

Contamination

The rains have brought a host of health problems including cholera, diarrhoea, and other diseases spread through dirty water. People suffering from malnourishment are especially vulnerable to disease.

Water shortages during the drought left people so desperate for water that many were forced to drink from pools of water on dirt roads, in fields or from contaminated wells.

Drinking water is contaminated by unburied animal corpses, and
malaria-carrying mosquitoes are breeding rapidly in stagnant water pools.

These conditions make Islamic Relief's work more urgent than ever. Clean drinking water supplies and health & hygiene information can prevent unnecessary deaths. IR is also rehabilitating and cleaning up water sources.

Too little too late

One season of heavy rain is simply not enough to undo the damage of years of severe drought. It is estimated it could take up to 15 years for the region to completely recover.

"People have lost their animals," explains Marc-Andre LaGrange, IR Head of Emergency Response in Kenya, "So despite the rains they have already lost their source of income. It will take some time for people to recover."

The rains should help to kick-start the regeneration of pasture and increase the availability of water in some regions, but at a heavy price.

Urgent Need

Access to clean drinking water and food is vital in order to prevent the deaths of thousands of malnourished children and adults.

Islamic Relief is helping drought-stricken people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. "Our programmes are focused on supporting the most vulnerable families," said Marc-Andre LaGrange.

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