Deep in the heart of Tana River County, Kenya, is Amka Twende camp, a community affected by recent flooding. ‘Amka Twende’ is a Swahili term that loosely translates to ‘get up and leave’ – the reality for the camp’s residents, 50 families who had to get up and leave their farms to escape the flooding in mid-April. Four days after setting up temporary housing, they mobilized a few community members, wrote down their names, and send word out that they were in dire need of help.
In early June, Action Against Hunger in Kenya was the first organization to reach the camp. Our emergency response team distributed essential non-food items including blankets, kitchen sets, bar soaps, sanitary pads, mosquito nets, Vaseline, jerrycans, buckets, and water purification tablets.
Displaced from their homes, the community faces serious security challenges. The camp is unguarded, and community members have had to repeatedly cross the Tana River – a waterway with a very strong current, notorious for hippos and crocodiles. Despite the unsafe route, crossing the river is part of the main route to the closest shopping center where families can access treatment, schools, and food.
Barisa Bwanamadi’s Story
One of Amka Twende’s residents is Barisa Dhidha Mwanamadi, a 46-year-old husband and father who escaped the flooding with his family. A maize and banana farmer, he is among the first to receive the emergency items from Action Against Hunger.
“Until Action Against Hunger arrived, no one had been able to reach our camp to help us since the floods began. Not the chief, the sub-chief, or even an organization. We lost all hope especially after constantly being told that the lists with our names could not be found,” he says. “I can barely provide for my family since the floods cleared my farm. On top of all this, I have just learned last week that I have ulcers and high blood pressure.”
Despite being located just three miles from the main road, Amka Twende camp is difficult to access – the journey takes at least a half-hour drive through a footpath. “It costs 250 Shillings to get to the hospital. For me to return to the camp, I depend on pure luck, because sometimes there are no canoes returning; in which case we request well-wishers for accommodation in the shopping centers.”
Barisa’s wife, Mwanahamisi Swalehe, unpacks the kit of emergency items. “Oh! I see you haven’t forgotten about us women!” she exclaims as she discovers a pack of sanitary pads, explaining that, with such a journey to the centers and limited access to medical treatment, such personal supplies are rare.
“I will live to remember Action Against Hunger because you are the first organization to reach us and for that we’re grateful,” Barisa adds. “You have given us hope to believe that other organizations can reach our camp and help us.”
Esha Bakari’s Story
Esha Halako Bakari, 39, a single mother, recently had to send her 16-year-old daughter, Fatuma Hagalido, to stay with family members in a nearby shopping center so she can continue to attend school after the floods.
“Here in the camp, we get rained on because we don’t have tarpaulins to cover our houses, no nets to protect us from the mosquitoes and diseases, barely any food, and the younger children cannot go to school,” she says as explains why she decided to send her older daughter away. The main breadwinner for her family, Esha has appealed for food aid – Amka Twende community members have lost their farms and have no source of food as they observe Ramadhan.
Delighted by the bundle of supplies she received from our emergency teams, Esha cannot hold back her gratitude. “Action Against Hunger has given me hope for better days to come,” she says.