Humanitarian crisis in Tana Delta deepens

Written By: Marie Yambo/Margaret Kalekye

The long rains which started in March 2020 led to floods affecting at least 10,000 households

The humanitarian crisis in Tana Delta region of Lamu and Tana River continues to deepen with villages remaining submerged due to floods occasioned by heavy rains.

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Thousands of people have been left homeless in Tana River County, with massive destruction of schools, hospitals and road infrastructure completely cutting off with speed boats and helicopters as the only means out of the areas.

The situation was exacerbated after River Tana burst its banks flooding several areas of Tana River county following heavy rains and the overflowing Masinga Dam in Machakos county.

Tana Delta sub-county is among the worst affected.

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60-year-old Bonaya Abadima Chalaluma, a village headman says the delta is becoming unbearable.

He says they have lost everything including the houses constructed by Kenya Red Cross during the reconstruction program in 2018.

Lamu County Woman Representative Ruweida Mohamed has decried what she terms as marginalisation of the county, as 6,000 remain displaced in Lamu County.

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She said despite the ongoing flooding, the county has not been captured as a flood-prone area in a recent report tabled in parliament to compensate counties affected by floods.

Speaking during a visit to the area, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said the government has set aside 3.5 billion shillings for the reconstruction of affected villages and provision of relief to affected persons

Tana River Governor Hussein Dhado has cautioned residents who have been depending on the wetland to start moving to raised grounds warning that people have moved close to the river and flooding will continue if people are not settled away from the delta.

Meanwhile, over 1,000 households affected by floods in Tana River, Lamu, Isiolo and Baringo counties are set to benefit from a donation of non- food items.

This is after Safaricom Foundation extended its partnership with the Kenya Red Cross to help families affected by the ongoing floods.

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Safaricom Foundation has put in Ksh 11million towards the provision of three months’ supply of sanitary towels, kitchen sets, mattresses, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, soap, jerricans and water disinfectants. In addition, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the affected families will also receive face masks.

“It is unfortunate that the residents of these four counties have to deal with both the effects of flooding and the risk of the COVID-19 disease. They have lost their property because of the heavy rains which also puts them at risk of waterborne diseases. That is why we partnered with Kenya Red Cross to distribute essential non-food items to the affected families.” said Joseph Ogutu, Safaricom Foundation Chairman.

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According to the Kenya Red Cross, at least 10,000 households in these four counties need support with Tana River accounting for 80% of the households affected in the four counties.

“Since the onset of the rains in March 2020, over 240,000 people in 43 Counties have been displaced and many more affected in other ways including loss of property and livelihoods.  These losses have a big psychological impact on the affected families and the support from Safaricom Foundation will ensure that basic health and domestic needs are taken care of, creating continuity of livelihoods in Tana River, Lamu, Isiolo and Baringo counties.” Dr. Asha Mohammed, Kenya Red Cross Secretary-General.

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