More than 2,000 families affected by flash floods in northern Kenya are facing a possible outbreak of cholera as they use untreated flood water for cooking and drinking.m The outbreak is imminent in Merti, Gafarsa, Sericho and Bassa area where thousands of families had their homes submerged when Ewaso Nyiro river burst its banks following heavy rain in the area.
The flash floods are washing away human wastes from latrines into the land surface and its environs posing great risk to residents. The deputy secretary general of Red Cross Dr James Kisia who visited Gafarsa in Garba-Tulla district following the floods, said sanitation was worsened by the raw wastes from latrines into the area. He said there is urgent need to improve sanitation and provide outreach programmes to sensitize the community on usage of treated water.
Isiolo South MP Abdul Bahari Ali said there was need to spray those latrines which were not affected and provide water purification facilities. He also appealed to the government and relevant organisations to support local dispensaries with drugs and other facilities to ensure that locals access the services.
Mr Ali said in areas which lack safe drinking water, locals have started consuming flood waters which are contaminated with raw sewage. "The outbreak of water-borne diseases are imminent here and people should treat their drinking water to prevent recurrence of cholera at this time when sources of domestic water supply points have been contaminated by floods. We have put the community on high alert and sensitised them to watch out for signs of several water-borne diseases and to report the symptoms to authorities for action," said the MP.
Meanwhile, 21 people who had been marooned in the middle of the river 10 kilometers away from Merti town have been rescued. Isiolo OCPD Augustine Nthumbi said the victims were airlifted by a chopper to safer grounds after spending five days in the middle of the raging water. The farmers looked exhausted because they spent five days without food. They were rescued by the helicopter on Monday evening. Terrified survivors narrated how they spent days on tree tops in the middle of the flooding seasonal river and another day spent wading through the muddy river basin without food or water to quench their thirst.
The survivors said they were surprised by the sudden noisy and later confusion while the flood engulfed them. "I was awaken by the roaring noise of the flood and the confusion of friends, my first action was to climb on a tall acacia tree which withstood massive floods with the hope that it will pass quickly but it took five days for it to subside," said one of the victim.
Leaders who visited the affected areas pledged to marshal government support for the families who lost property during the floods. They urged locals living along the river basin to move to higher grounds and keep away from river banks till the threats of flooding subsides. "Move away from river basins and to higher grounds to be safe when the floods hit the area again as we expect more rains upstream. Do not take your animals near the rivers for grazing since the waters might sore anytime as more rains continue to fall in the Aberdare Forest," said Mr Nthumbi.