Floods in the past two weeks following a long drought have left more than 20 people dead, houses destroyed and large stretches of agricultural land devastated due to flooding and resulting landslides. (The parched land cannot absorb the sudden water.)
Hundreds of families have been displaced in the floods, which have occurred during post-New Year festival time. The capital of Nairobi, as well as the Nyanza and North Rift regions, have all been affected.
In the Rift Valley region of Marakwet, where CWS is responding, at least 10 people, including three children, have perished in the landslides.
"Red Cross and Government personnel with assistance from villagers made frantic efforts to look for survivors, some of who were rushed to nearby medical centers for treatment. Rescue efforts are still on despite ongoing rain in the affected areas," said Sammy Mutua, CWS East Africa emergency coordinator.
Andrew Chekonga, a long-time driver with the CWS East Africa regional office and an eyewitness to events in his village, said it was it was devastating to see members of his community buried alive. Three children are among those who were buried alive by mudslides in the area.
It is very difficult to predict the losses right now," Chekonga said. "The waters have not receded and there is still more rain predicted. It is extremely cold out here and I have counted 165 children and about 335 people totally displaced and living in the open. They urgently need something to keep themselves warm."
Rains are expected to continue through January, officials said.
CWS is responding by providing displaced families with 600 blankets and 300 mattresses, with a value of $10,000. Further response by CWS may be required.
How to help:
Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts around the world may be made online, sent to your denomination, or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515
Church World Service is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.