Tana River County Women Representative Rehema Hassan on Thursday called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare the ongoing floods in the county a national disaster.
Ms Hassan said declaring floods a national disaster would attract the international community and local well-wishers to come to the aid of desperate flood victims in the country.
She was speaking while overseeing the distribution of non-food items to about 100 families in Watta Omara and Mwangaza villages of Hola Town by the Kenya Red Cross.
She said that Tana River County was the hardest hit, with at about 10,291 families (about 70,000 people) having been affected by the floods in all the three sub counties.
She at the same time called on the national and county governments to provide more logistical support to reach those who had been displaced or marooned by the month-long flood crisis with food and non-food items.
“Many of the areas are still inaccessible by road and the boats we have been using to evacuate people,” she said adding, “We thank the national government for giving us one helicopter to distribute food, but we call for one more chopper to be able to reach all areas.”
She said the floods being experienced in the county currently were unprecedented, adding that they had caused great damages and rendered some schools unreachable.
She called on the National Malaria Control Council to move with haste and provide mosquito nets to the affected families to avoid a malaria outbreak since the floods had increased mosquito breeding grounds.
She likewise urged on the public health department to help with sanitation facilities as the floods had submerged many toilet sanitation facilities and people were defecating in the open, a factor than could easily lead to an outbreak of cholera and other water-borne diseases.
She noted that many schools cannot be reached due to the floods, which had also submerged classrooms and pit latrines in the schools, and expressed fears that learners would not be able to reach the institutions.
“We urge the government to assist us to ensure our children reach schools when they re-open for the second term on Monday,” she said.
She urged families still living in lowlands to immediately move to higher grounds as the floods could worsen when the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) releases water from the Seven Folks Dams.
Tana River County Kenya Red Cross Coordinator Gerald Bombe confirmed that 10,291 families had already been affected by the floods, with others still marooned in all the three sub counties.
“The water levels in the River Tana have already moved to 6.1 metres instead of the normal height of 3.5 metres and we expect this will go up with the reports that KenGen will gradually release water from the hydro-electric dams,” he said.
“It is very unfortunate that this time round the floods have had great adverse effects comparable to the floods of 1961,” he said adding that no sub county had been spared by the floods this time.
As he was speaking, he said some 47 families marooned in Pamba area of Bura constituency had not been reached and his team was trying to send a boat to evacuate them.
He said there were 16 camps in Tana North Sub Count, 38 in Galole constituency although some victims had been integrated with relatives, and 19 camps on Garsen constituency.
The coordinator said the Kenya Red Cross was stranded with relief consignments after the floods rendered roads to five targeted locations impassable over the last two months.
The areas include Assa Kone and Walsorea (four months each) and Daba, Haroresa and Wayu areas (two months each).
By Emmanuel Masha