Kenya – Fatalities and Evacuations After Floods in Several Regions

At least 12 people have lost their lives and hundreds have been displaced from their homes in Kenya after storms, heavy rain and flooding affected several regions of the country over the last week.

Flood damage in Garissa County, Kenya, March 2023. Photo: Kenya Red Cross Society

One person died, hundreds of homes were destroyed and families were displaced after heavy rain caused damage and flooding in the capital Nairobi and surrounding areas on 23 March 2023. Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) reported parts of the Nairobi – Mai Mahiu – Narok Highway were blocked or flooded.

More recently, heavy rain triggered flash flooding in Gilgil in Nakuru County on 27 March. The Nakuru County Government said the flooding “caused devastating effects leaving several dead, scores injured and property worth thousands destroyed.” Seven bodies have been recovered and 5 people were injured and transferred to a local hospital. Dozens of residents have moved to higher ground.

Flood damage in Nakuru County, Kenya, March 2023. Photo: Nakuru County Government

Also on 27 March, stormy weather including strong winds and heavy rain caused damage in Narok County. One person died after being swept away by flash floods in Suswa.

In the neighbouring Kajiado County, homes were destroyed and at least 70 families have been displaced by floods in Ilbisil (also known as Bisil), around 90 km (55 miles) south of Nairobi.

Flash floods in Garissa County caused severe damage to major roads, including the Garissa-Modogashe road, which was closed for some time, leaving around 150 vehicles stuck. The Kenya Red Cross also reported damage to homes in parts of the county after heavy rainfall.

Local observers also reported some flooding after rivers broke their banks near Boka in Tana River County.

Further west, two people died in flash floods in West Pokot County between 24 to 26 March. Another person died in a lightning strike.

Meanwhile flooding in Kisumu County has prompted local authorities to set up evacuation centres in Nyando to house around 200 people.

Floods in Garissa County, Kenya, March 2023. Photo: Kenya Red Cross Society
Floods in Garissa County, Kenya, March 2023. Photo: Kenya Red Cross Society

Northern Kenya

Wide areas of land are underwater in northern Kenya after rivers, some of them seasonal rivers, broke their banks over the last 7 days. Around 812 households have been displaced in Walda in Marsabit county. Thousand of livestock are thought to have perished.

Some areas near Moyale have been left isolated after road connections were flooded. Flooding was also reported in North Horr and Fincharo, causing displacements.

Flooding has cut roads in Kutulo in Mandera County in the northeast of the country, while the swollen Kawalase River has caused flooding in Lodwar, Turkana County, in the northwest.

Severe Drought

Kenya’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) region has experienced long-term drought conditions after several poor rainy seasons, placing food security and millions of lives at risk.

In February 2023 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called for urgent assistance after the Horn of Africa entered its sixth consecutive rainy season with no rain.

According to UNHCR data, over 1.7 million people have been internally displaced in Ethiopia and Somalia due to the drought, most of them last year. More than 180,000 refugees from Somalia and South Sudan also crossed into drought-affected areas of Kenya and Ethiopia.

An Integrated Food Security Phase Classification report said about 5.4 million people in ASAL were projected to face high levels of acute food insecurity between March and June this year.