The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is launching a five million dollar appeal to help flood victims in Kenya. The worst affected areas are Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Budalangi and Tana River Districts. At least 12 people, most of them children, have died in the floods.
Abbas Gullet is secretary-general of the Kenya Red Cross. From Nairobi, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the appeal.
"Basically, it has to do with the flash floods that we had during the short rainy season now that have been going on the last four weeks. And many parts of the country are affected by floods…by landslides and affected by originally drought. But now we have a situation where the major needs would be the issue of health, water, sanitation," he says.
The IFRC estimates about 300,000 people overall have been affected by the Kenya floods. And there is a risk of cholera in some areas. In Wajir, for example, he says there's a "situation where the whole water system in town has been contaminated because they use shallow wells for water." Water treatment systems have been set up to reduce the risk, but cases of diarrheal diseases have been reported.
Because the regions have faced, what he calls, "one cycle of disaster after another," many people in northern Kenya have been receiving food aid for as long as five years. Gullet says he has seen an increase in natural disasters in the region.
"Unfortunately, it has been cyclical. It has also been according to a change in weather patterns. Call it climate change. But certainly the intensity and the frequency of disasters in this region have been increasing. As late as three weeks ago, we were doing water distribution to communities that had been affected by drought in northern Kenya, Ethiopia or Somalia. With the recent rains, then we get a second cycle or a different kind of disaster where now it's too much water that came too suddenly, too quickly. And even if the water dries up for now, the aftermath of that flooding then has its own consequences for another three to six months," he says.Gullet says the Red Cross has been "moving from one disaster to another, whether it is drought or floods. And unfortunately, earlier in the year we had this post-election violence in the country. So, it's been one after the other." And with the increase in the number of natural disasters, more people have been affected overall.