120 die, thou­sands dis­placed in Kenya as weeks of tor­ren­tial rain bring threat of dis­ease Floods dev­as­tate East Africa

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - WORLD -

WEEKS of tor­ren­tial rain af­ter a long drought have turned from bless­ing to curse in East Africa, killing hun­dreds of peo­ple and dis­plac­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of oth­ers.

In Kenya, which had suf­fered from three failed rainy sea­sons, 120 peo­ple had died in two months, in­clud­ing eight who were swept off a bridge in a flash flood on Thurs­day night out­side the cap- ital, wit­nesses said. The Red Cross ap­pealed for ß5- mil­lion (R75-mil­lion) to help those af­fected.

Since early March, “112 peo­ple have lost their lives”, Red Cross sec­re­tary-gen­eral Ab­bas Gul­let said yes­ter­day, not in­clud­ing Thurs­day night’s in­ci­dent.

Flood­ing has washed away bridges and homes, with the mil­i­tary air­lift­ing res­i­dents from sub­merged houses in some parts of the coun­try.

“About 48 177 house­holds have been dis­placed so far and this trans­lates to 260 200 peo­ple,” Gul­let said. He said more than 8 500ha of crops had been de­stroyed and some 20 000 an­i­mals washed away.

On Mon­day the govern­ment an­nounced that up to 100 schools would not open for the sec­ond term due to flood­ing.

So­ma­lia, also struck by a se­vere drought, has re­ceived heavy rains and the south-cen­tral town of Beled­weyne was en­gulfed by flood waters af­ter the Sha­belle River burst its banks.

The peace­keep­ing force Ami­som stepped in to evac­u­ate some 10 000 res­i­dents, ac­cord­ing to its Twit­ter ac­count.

Pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Ab­dul­lahi Mo­hamed vis­ited the dis­trict on Tues­day: “I came here to Beled­weyne to share with you the pain and hard­ships caused by the dev­as­tat­ing floods. I know that there are more than 100 000 peo­ple dis­placed from their homes be­cause of the floods and many oth­ers still stranded in­side town,” he said.

Sev­eral other ma­jor towns along the river have also been af­fected and lo­cal NGO worker Ab­du­lahi Liban said there were con­cerns of wa­ter-borne dis­eases break­ing out. Rwanda has also been se­ri­ously af­fected by the del­uge.

Its min­istry of dis­as­ter man­age­ment said 116 peo­ple had died and 207 had been in­jured in flood­ing and land­slides since Jan­uary.

The min­istry said floods had de­stroyed 120 houses, 23 roads, seven churches, and killed 705 live­stock while also de­stroy­ing 11 300 acres of crops.

Tor­ren­tial rains have also hit Tan­za­nia, where 14 peo­ple died in April, as well as Uganda where flash floods have de­stroyed homes and left at least three dead, ac­cord­ing to police in both coun­tries.

Au­thor­i­ties have warned that the del­uge will con­tinue.

A se­vere drought across East Africa last year left So­ma­lia on the brink of famine, while more than three mil­lion re­quired food aid in Kenya and al­most eight mil­lion needed aid in Ethiopia. Food prices and in­fla­tion soared in the re­gion as a re­sult.

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