UN airlifts relief food for Kenyans cut off by floods

Aerial view of flooded Nairobi CBD. / Net photo

NAIROBI – The UN World Food Programme (WFP) began on Saturday airlifting Kenyan government’s relief food and supplies to areas cut off by widespread flooding.

As a response to a formal request by the government, WFP deployed a Mi-8 helicopter to deliver life-saving assistance to families in parts of Mandera, Wajir, Garissa and Tana River counties.

“We have therefore requested WFP to mobilize a high-capacity helicopter to enable us to continue with relief activities,” Eugene Wamalwa, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Devolution and Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs), said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

“While we have allocated relief supplies to meet the needs of families affected by flooding, we face a serious challenge in delivering them because of access constraints,” he added.

The heavy rains follow a period of a prolonged drought which saw the number of severely food insecure people in Kenya rise to 3.1 million.

Aid agencies said the destruction of crucial livelihoods, including an undetermined acreage of farmland and livestock will likely heavily impact the food security situation across the country.

The government says the floods have led to the loss of 38 lives, displaced 11,700 families and killed more than 10,000 animals.

Floods have destroyed bridges and cut off major roads, especially in the Northeast, paralyzing transport since the start of the short rains in early October.

The Kenya Meteorological Department says the rains in arid and semi-arid regions are so far two to three times above normal and are forecast to peak in mid-November.

WFP Country Director and Representative Annalisa Conte said the Kenyan government is taking a strong lead in reaching people whose lives have been affected by the floods.

“WFP can draw on its global capacity to mobilize aviation services to support government relief efforts and ensure the timely delivery of life-saving support,” said Conte.

Xinhua