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Tens of thousands caught in Africa floods

8 January 2009

Woman walking in flood waterIFRCTens of thousands of people affected by floods in Kenya and Tanzania are receiving emergency relief from the Red Cross.

"In Kenya, the rains have caused death, swept homes away and destroyed food crops leaving at least 30,000 people in dire need of relief aid," said Abbas Gullet, the secretary general of the Kenya Red Cross Society.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has released £460,000 from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to provide food and other relief to people affected by the floods. So far in Kenya, 1,430 non-food items and 8 metric tonnes of food have been distributed to affected communities.

Ongoing heavy rains

In Tanzania, ongoing heavy rains since 24 December 2009 have caused floods, devastating several regions.

Hundreds of people have been left homeless and there is widespread destruction of infrastructure. Roads have been damaged and wells, which serve as the major source of water, have been contaminated leaving thousands of families without clean and safe water.

Tanzania Red Cross staff and volunteers are in the most affected regions of Morogoro and Dodoma, distributing relief items. The DREF money will support 5,000 people over the next three months.

Prepared for floods

The heavy rains brought about by El Nino, the recurrent phenomenon of major global weather and climate fluctuations, were predicted towards the end of last year.

In October 2009, the Federation launched an appeal to prepare for El Nino floods in east Africa and the British Red Cross gave £25,000 from its Disaster Fund.

Pete Garratt, relief operations manager, said: “The appeal money was used to preposition appropriate relief, including medical and water and sanitation items, close to communities likely to be affected. It helped the Red Cross make a quick and effective response to the current situation in Kenya and Tanzania.

“The rains are expected to continue for the next couple of weeks, causing further havoc for families whose homes have been damaged or destroyed. However, some areas in east Africa are still emerging from one of the worst drought spells in years, it remains to be seen if the rains will improve the food situation with better crops.”

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