Crisis unfolds in Tana River as 48,000 displaced by floods

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020 00:00 |
A tenant at Kihoto, Naivasha. Photo/PD/Kirera Mwiti

A major humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Tana Delta area of Tana River county, where about 48,000 people have been displaced by floods.

Area leaders say several villages have been cut off by floods and the areas remain inaccessible by road.

“The only means of accessing the area is by boat but currently this is also not possible due to debris and huge logs that have blocked the routes to the villages,” said Musa Wario, Kipini West MCA.

Further, the access routes have large snakes, wild bees, crocodiles and hippos which put lives of those crossing the area at high risk.

Boat operators say they are unable to access some areas such as Mwanja in Kipini West.

The operators said they have to alight from the boats in the crocodile-infested river to remove debris and logs for the boats to cross the river.

“An area that can be accessed in 25 minutes is taking us up to two hours due to the challenges of access routes and has made it a challenge even to rescue the flood victims who are stranded,” said Omar Barisa Mohamed, a boat operator. 

Wario said Mwanja area was completely cut off and it was difficult to evacuate residents because the nearest higher ground is 10 kilometres away at a place called Marafa.

“This is a crisis, we need to have these people rescued as soon as possible before the entire village is swept away,’’ he said.

Wario said the flood victims were not against moving to safer ground but have been stranded since floods hit the area.

Kenya Red Cross Society (KRC) said last week 15 wards in Tana River county have been affected and that over 48,000 people have been displaced by the floods. 

Tana Delta sub-county is the worst hit as six wards are inaccessible.

Roba Kokane Gonyo, a diver, said they had not witnessed the water in the river rise to the current level in the recent past.

Data from the KRC indicates that Tana Delta is the worst hit, with 4,659 households affected followed by Tana North with 2,821 households and Galole which has 673 households affected. 

Those displaced are camping at schools and trading centres.

KRC Secretary-General Dr Asha Mohamed said most of the families had been forced to abandon their homes while others had their houses washed away after River Tana changed its course in the Tana North.

The official, who toured the area last week together with the Governor Dhadho Godhana said it was encouraging that some residents had accepted to move to higher ground.

She said despite supplying food and non-food items, KRC would work closely with the county government to rebuild homes for affected families.

Dr Mohamed said the flood situation was causing many challenges countrywide but pointed out that  Tana River was among the worst-hit areas.

Relief organisations have not been able to access some of the areas among them Bula Rahma, Adama, Korati, Lagbadana, Gubani since the floods begun.

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