Sunday, 26 November 2023 16:58

Humanitarian crisis deepens as flooding escalates in ASAL Kenya: AHN Call for Collective and Urgent Action   Featured

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The heavy rains, flash floods and increasing river levels in the ASAL region has caused massive damage and loss of livelihoods The heavy rains, flash floods and increasing river levels in the ASAL region has caused massive damage and loss of livelihoods Abdulhakim Abdi/PGI

Kenya is once more at the forefront of a climatic crisis. Heavy rainfall due to the El Niño climatic phenomenon as well as the enhanced Indian Ocean Dipole both are combining to make this rainy season wetter than average according to the Kenya Meteorological Department. These wet conditions are predicted to continue until February 2024 with rainfall increasing, especially in the northern part of Kenya in Isiolo, and Marsabit counties and along the coast up towards the North eastern counties of Garissa, Wajir and Mandera[1] some of the counties in the ASAL of Kenya which have been greatly affected.

This prediction is supported by the announcement made on 22nd August 2023 by IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) and Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) in collaboration with the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of IGAD Member States, World

Meteorological Organization (WMO), and other partners who all confirmed that the October-November-December 2023 climate forecast shows high chances of wetter than usual rainfall in Southern Ethiopia, Eastern Kenya, and Southern Somalia.

The floods situation will further affect the state of food security in the ASALs. Food insecurity will be further worsened by the effects of two-year severe drought that the region has recently experienced. More than 4.4 million people who had been affected by acute food insecurity and poverty had not yet recovered. 

 The heavy rains, flash floods and increasing river levels in several counties in ASAL Kenya have resulted in loss of livestock, destruction of essential infrastructure (telecommunications and roads), farming and grazing lands, increased incidences of water-borne diseases like cholera, and massive displacement of populations.


In addition, vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, women, chronically ill individuals, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs), face a higher risk of neglect and other protection issues during this new phase of the climate crisis. A surge in sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) cases further compound these challenges, with the differentiated needs of all genders often unmet. 


Previous statements

o    4th November 2023, the Governor of Mandera declared the floods impact a disaster and appealed for support from both the National Government and other stakeholders.

o   7th November 2023, The Cabinet secretary for East Africa and ASAL was accompanied by KRCS and NDOC, visited the counties of Mandera and Wajir for an aerial assessment of the floods.

o   14th November 2023, TARDA (Tana and Athi rivers Development Authority) issued a statement warning that the heavy rainfalls had caused water levels in rivers Tana and Athi to rise posing a risk to low lying areas on Garissa, Tana River and Kitui counties posing a critical flooding crisis. Populations living in the low -lying areas and those around the rivers were warned to move to higher areas


Impact of floods on different sectors and counties 

 Agriculture and Food Security

The intensified rainfall in the ASAL Counties of Kenya namely Tana River, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera,Marsabit and Isiolo has resulted in diverse impacts on agriculture. Farmers along River Tana in Garissa and Tanariver, River Daawa in Mandera and Ewaso Nyiro in Isiolo have suffered the complete destruction of all their season’s crop.


Local trade and economy

Local markets have been disrupted from 1) Destruction of crops and livestock in the farms; 2) Damaged and impassable roads and 3) Damage and loss of goods from the flooding of their shops. This has affected the supply of basic goods and foodstuff thus increasing their demand. There is concern over food and basic items price inflation due to these market dynamics and the challenge of accessing essential goods. 


Disaster Management

There is a significant risk of isolated and unpredicted storms leading to various forms of flooding. Across the six most affected ASAL counties that the AHN members are presents, inadequate drainage especially in urban areas, have been reported. The overflow of rivers has caused flash floods forcing communities living along rivers to move to higher ground. This phenomenon has been prevalent along the River Tana in Garissa and Tana River, River Daawa in Mandera and Ewaso nyiro in Isiolo. 

Water supply schemes have been submerged therefore cutting water supply to towns and villages while boreholes have been submerged and contaminated. Community Sanitation facilities such as latrines have also been damaged increasing the risk of disease.



Despite the hopeful and anticipated benefits of rainfall, there has been wide spread of destruction of the environment. Flash floods pose risks such as land degradation, massive soil erosion and landslides.



The impact of flooding on health is two-fold: 1) flooding increases the risk and incidence of water borne and vector borne diseases because of the destruction of sanitation facilities (latrines), the contamination of water sources; poor living conditions of displaced people and stagnant water creating a breeding ground for disease causing vectors 2) reduced access to nutritious and adequate food due to the impassable roads causing high food prices and limited food availability. Consequently, there is a heightened risk of nutrition-related diseases especially among vulnerable populations (the elderly, the sickly, children under 5, pregnant and lactating mothers).



The heavy rains and flash floods have caused a major disruption of transportation infrastructure, particularly in regions including the Wajir, Mandera, Garissa, Tana River, Marsabit and Isiolo Counties. Additionally, reduced visibility a consequence of the adverse weather conditions has led to a rise in road accidents. Motorists are advised to take caution while driving in rainy conditions to minimize road accidents.



Ongoing Responses by AHN members and partners

According to the ECHO Daily Flash of November 27th, and Kenya Red Cross, 95,800 households are affected with 45,000 households displaced due to flooding with the most affected regions being in the North East (Garissa, Tana river, Mandera and Wajir counties)

The ASAL Humanitarian Network targets to reach  22,679 households (133,344 people) with flood response through its members who have been engaged in various emergency responses in the past.  

As at November 27th 2023, the immediate and ongoing responses by the AHN members include:

1.   In Garissa and Tana river counties, (two of the most affected counties) ALDEF and PGI is reaching 1478 households (739 in each county) with multipurpose cash assistance support of Ksh12,109 with funding from Oxfam (Appeal funds and GFFO) and in the LFA response kitty

2.   Concurrent with the MPCA efforts, there are hygiene promotion activities in progress in Tana river and Garissa counties. Community Health promoters (CHPs) are actively supporting households with hygiene information with a focus on those in the IDP camps.

3.   In Wajir county, ALDEF, has supported 200 adolescent girls with dignity kits while their families have received Non-Food Items (mosquito nets, water storage tanks and jerrycans and water treatment tabs) with funding from Save the Children

4.     Under Oxfam/GFFO funded project, WASH and Hygiene promotion activities, support to 3600 HHs (1800 receiving wash NFI through e-voucher and 1800Hhs with dignity kits for women and girls.

5.  Provision of piped water to families In Bulabaraka IDP camp (Tana river) and in Ziwani, Milimani and Bukayo IDP camps (Garissa). The three IDP camp in Garissa have since been flooded and the people moved to the Police Mess IDP camp.  

6.   Creating awareness and facilitating dialogue in the community on SBGV, existing protection services and referral pathways available. The floods response is happening at the same time with the 16 days of Activism campaign thus providing an opportunity to address the heightened risk of GBV during the crisis



1.   Preservation of lives and livelihoods. National and county governments of affected counties, as well as disaster management and humanitarian agencies should take all necessary measures to preserve lives and livelihoods.

2.  Urgent scale up of humanitarian assistance for displaced households. Government agencies, county departments, international and local humanitarian partners to urgently scale up assistance with priority given to Multipurpose cash and voucher assistance) for immediate response and the most urgent humanitarian needs of food, shelter, Non-Food Items, WASH services and facilities to relocate the affected households. 

3.   comprehensive disaster response that is multi-sectoral and coordinated and one that prioritizes the people in crisis and is sensitive to their immediate needs.

4.   Allocate humanitarian support for community recovery after the floods and support community-led and locally led resilience building programs and Early Warning Systems

5.   Effective communication and information dissemination. Disseminate Early warning messages to communities in flood prone areas and health saving information via multiple media channels – Public Address Systems, Local radio, Social media and Community Health workers.

6.    Operationalize hub disaster operation centers with specialist teams for search and rescue, call in toll free lines, 24/7 operationality, deployment of logistical support including boats. Technical team able to conduct river flood simulation models early warning purposes and ground truthed to establish extent of flood for future planning and  anticipatory action

7.   Design and approvals of road and housing infrastructures in floods prone areas with strict approval processes, staying clear of water ways to enable quick disposal of storm water and drainage systems cleaned in readiness for flood and rainy seasons.












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