Devastating flash floods caused by torrential rains in parts of Kenya have resulted in the destruction of crops, irrigation systems, health, water and sanitation infrastructures, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless, with little to no agricultural income and a rapidly deteriorating food security situation in many areas as a result.
According preliminary reports, the rains have caused flood damage that has left close to 260,000 people displaced, and more than 100 dead – numbers that are likely to rise as the heavy rain continues until July, according to weather predictions.
Affecting at least 29 counties in the East African nation, the abnormal rainfall pattern this year has been described as a "mini El Nino phenomenon" by the local meteorological department in Nairobi, and threatens a fragile population still recovering from the catastrophic drought of 2017.
The rapid release of emergency humanitarian finance from the Start Fund however means that a rapid early humanitarian response is possible, helping to save lives and limit further flood damage.
Supported by the Department for International Development (DfID), the fund provides rapid financing to underfunded small to medium scale crises, spikes in chronic humanitarian crises, and to act in anticipation of impending crises, filling a critical gap in humanitarian financing. Projects are chosen within 72 hours of any given emergency, allowing INGOs to act far more quickly than before.
“Unlike in the past, with Start Funding we have been able to respond swiftly and efficiently to the flash floods, and have already been able to implement emergency water and sanitation programmes in Tana River County, one of the areas most badly hit by the current floods,” Hajir Maalim, Action Against Hunger’s East Africa Regional Director.
“With this rapid funding mechanism in place, Action Against Hunger is able to carry out emergency activities, including providing water treatment supplies sufficient to provide clean water to 10,000 people for 30 days, as well as constructing emergency latrines."
“We will also be working with the local government to deliver integrated health and nutrition services in the affected area, and are conducting ongoing nutrition screening and referring malnourished children to treatment programs,” he adds.
The most affected counties are currently Turkana, Tana River, Garissa, Isiolo, Kisumu, Taita, Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, West Pokot, Samburu and Narok.