Humanitarian aid in Kenya

The Red Cross is supporting people in Kenya affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, floods, locusts and hunger.

Emergency response to Covid-19, locusts and floods

In 2020 and into 2021, Kenya was hit by several major emergencies in quick succession. Clouds of locusts have been devouring crops and vegetation for miles around, and these are the worst swarms Kenya has seen in 70 years.  Covering vast distances, a swarm of 80 million locusts can consume food for 35,000 people a day.

Extreme weather, which brings floods and mudslides, is also a growing problem, displacing around 300,000 people and destroying livelihoods and infrastructure. And Covid-19 is another.

There are still thousands of new Covid cases every day in Kenya, which is in its third wave of the virus, and a lack of clean water means it’s hard for people to wash their hands to prevent infection. On top of that, vaccine supply is extremely limited and a lot of awareness raising on Covid prevention is required.

Cash grants help save lives

The Red Cross is helping by giving cash grants to over 2,000 families hit by the recent emergencies. Rather than provide food or other relief supplies, giving people money means that they can buy exactly what they need. This is good both for the people who need help and their communities because the money they spend supports local markets.

First, the Red Cross identifies people in the community who need help. We then send money to their mobile phones, which means they can use it right away. Using the phone also makes the system more secure so we can make sure that the help goes to the families most in need.


Cash grants helped Molkiapu and her family buy food, pay school fees, and replace the livestock that died during drought.

Cash grants helped Molkiapu and her family buy food, pay school fees, and replace the livestock that died during severe drought.

Responding to Covid-19

We’re also giving cash grants to 915 pregnant women and mothers with children under five in Taita Taveta and Isiolo County. This is so that women can attend vital hospital appointments such as antenatal and postnatal clinics and small children can still be immunised. 

 

This cash support enabled women to get the healthcare they needed, but also invest the extra in their livelihoods, buy food and support their family. We are continuing to support Kenya Red Cross reach these vulnerable women and increase community awareness of the Covid vaccine.  

 

In Isiolo County, we are working with local communities on the pandemic response. This includes training first responders and working with the county to distribute vital medical supplies. We’re also raising awareness of how to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in local communities and to address rumours around the pandemic.

Clean water stops disease in its tracks

With health advice around the world now focused on handwashing, imagine trying to fight Covid when you have no clean water. Thousands of people in Kenya have to walk long distances to collect water, which may not be clean for drinking or washing.

Our project in Kenya is building wells to bring clean water to 11,000 people in 20 villages in Nakuruto in Taita Taveta County. We have also reached over 3,000 households with information on how to keep the water clean and the importance of washing your hands to stay healthy. In ten villages, we’ll be working with people to improve their sanitation and prevent contamination of the new water supplies.

Kenya Red Cross programme officer and engineer Joseph Kosgei standing outside the toilet block built by the Kenya Red Cross at Tebeswet Primary School in Bomet county.

Kenya Red Cross programme officer and engineer Joseph Kosgei stands in front of a primary school toilet block in Kenya.

Preparing for future floods

The Tana is Kenya’s longest river, and much of the land around it and the smaller Athi river is rich and good for farming. Over 40 per cent of Kenya’s population lives in these river basins, and there are several hydroelectric dams and irrigation schemes along them.

However, the area is prone to flooding during the long (March to May) and short (October to December) rains, causing problems for the people who live there. Homes, healthcare centres, irrigation schemes, farm equipment, roads and sources of drinking water can all be damaged or destroyed. People may have to flee their homes or can even die in the floods.

The Red Cross is working with the county government and communities living in the Tana and Athi river basins. Together, we will help people prepare for and respond to floods so they can stay safe and their livelihoods won’t be so disrupted.

The project includes an early warning system to reach over two million people so that families can protect their homes when flooding is likely or leave before the most serious floods hit. Working through the county government staff and local disaster committees, we will also share information and build public awareness of the best steps to take when floods threaten. The focus is on reaching people who are most at risk, such as the poorest people and people with disabilities.

The local county governments support these goals and made planning for disaster risk management part of their legal framework. This includes mapping the areas most likely to face the worst consequences during flooding and buying new equipment to help before and after floods. This will help ensure the project still has an impact even after the Red Cross leaves the area.

A woman holds livestock in Isiolo county in Northern Kenya

Drought in Kenya has affected farming and left people unable to feed livestock. 

Helping stop chronic hunger

Over 1.4 million people in Kenya face high levels of acute food insecurity.

Long periods of drought across Kenya have affected crops and livestock – large areas are now dry and cracked, and nothing grows. A recent attack of desert locusts made the situation even worse.

These conditions have affected people’s livelihoods, driven up the price of food and caused widespread chronic hunger and malnutrition. The situation has becoming particularly desperate in Modogashe, a border town between Garissa and Isiolo counties.

The British Red Cross has set up a two-year project in Modogashe to help end chronic hunger and protect communities against future emergencies such as drought.

Together with our partners, the Kenya Red Cross and the Kenyan government, we are:

  • improving local farming systems in Modagashe to protect against drought
  • supporting households to find news ways of earning a living when drought impacts farming and livelihoods
  • working with local caregivers to find people facing malnutrition
  • helping people learn how to improve diet and hygiene
  • working with local and national authorities so that everyone has equal access to vital supplies such as food, clean water and medicine.