More than 160 000 people have been affected by floods or landslides since the onset of the short rains in October, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) disclosed on Thursday, 28 November 2019.
According to the humanitarian body, at least 120 people have reportedly died, including 72 people who lost their lives after a landslide buried their houses in West Pokot County in north western Kenya, last weekend.
Infrastructure of undetermined value, including roads and bridges, have been damaged, hampering effective humanitarian response efforts in affected areas.
Most parts of the country continue to experience above average rainfall since the onset of the 2019 short rains in October, which are expected to last until December.
The Kenya Meteorological Department has attributed the heavy rainfall to an unusual warming of the Indian Ocean in a phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). This phenomenon occurs about every ten years, unleashing destructive rains and flooding across East Africa.
“Flash and riverine floods have affected at least 31 of the 47 Kenya’s counties, including in Central, Coastal, Eastern, Northern, Nyanza, Rift Valley and Western regions, and urban areas in Nairobi and Mombasa, according to the government’s National Disaster Operation Centre (NDOC),” Kenya Red Cross said in its latest update.
According to the Kenya Meteorological Department, heavy rains are expected to continue across the country over the next few weeks, mainly due to the positive IOD measurements.
Flood alerts have been issued especially for Coastal, Northern and Western regions of the country, with the risk of landslides and mudslides expected in parts of the Central Highlands and parts of the Rift Valley, including West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet and Nandi counties.
Kenya was already facing increased hunger prior to the floods, with 3.1 million people projected to be in crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity since October, according to the latest report from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).