16 May 2019

Kenya: Families Homeless as Heavy Rains Destroy Houses in Lamu

Several families in Lamu have been left homeless after their houses were destroyed by heavy rains currently being experienced in some parts of the region.

Speaking to the Nation on Wednesday, Kenya Red Cross Society Lamu County Coordinator Kauthar Alwy confirmed that at least 36 houses in Ishakani village which is on the Kenya-Somalia border were destroyed by the heavy downpour with walls of some of the houses collapsing.

This resulted to some of the families seeking refuge in mosques and nearby institutions including Ishakani Primary school.

Some of the affected families have also been forced to relocate to other parts of Lamu including Kiunga town which is about 10 kilometres from Ishakani.

Others have also opted to put up with friends.

ASSESS SITUATION

Mrs Alwy said they have already sent officers to assess the situation and promised that the organisation will soon move in to distribute humanitarian aid to the affected families.

"It's true that some houses have been destroyed by the heavy rains in Ishakani. By Tuesday, about 36 houses had been destroyed with some walls of the buildings collapsing. We're prepared and that's why our officers are already on the ground to conduct assessment so that we can move in and help the affected families," said Mrs Alwy.

Mr Ahmed Islam, the community mobilising officer in Ishakani, called on the government to quickly intervene and help the families, some of whom are already facing hunger since the rains begun.

He said the rains have made some of the families to lose their belongings including stored food.

NO FISHING

"Most of us here are fishermen and since the rains kicked off a week ago, we haven't been able to venture out to sea. That means we don't have anything to sustain our families. Even some of the food that we had stored in our houses was destroyed together with our shelters. We're now worried of a possible food crisis if alternative means are not sought to ensure we receive food," said Mr Islam.

Contacted, Lamu County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri also confirmed the situation saying "there was a deluge that affected the area".

Mr Kanyiri said his office, together with other partners, have already assessed the situation and that they have requisitioned for relief food items to be distributed to the affected families.

DELUGE

"It's true. There was a deluge that affected Ishakani village. Some houses were destroyed but what I know is that some of those houses are derelicts and thus not as many households are affected. Together with other relief agencies, we're exploring what support to give," said Mr Kanyiri.

The county commissioner advised those residing in low-lying areas which can easily be flooded to move to safer areas as the heavy rains season starts.

Mr Kanyiri also said that there has been a trend by residents, especially those in areas vulnerable to flooding, to refuse to heed to calls to move to safer areas and remain hold up in their villages until they are swept away by floods.

VILLAGES IN DANGER

Villages which are prone to flooding in Lamu County include Chalaluma, Moa, Dide Waride, Jericho, Pangani, Amkeni, Pandanguo, Mkunumbi, Kitumbinio, Chomo, Boko and Bar'goni, all in Lamu West.

Others are Basuba, Mangai, Madina and Ishakani in Lamu East.

Mr Kanyiri asked the residents in those areas to be cautious by vacating their homes early in order to minimise the effects brought about by heavy rains.

"The period of heavy rains is here. My appeal to locals is that those occupying areas renowned for flooding should make alternative accommodation plans and vacate such places to avoid cases of them being swept away by floods," said Mr Kanyiri.

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