Lamu cut off by floods, now facing acute fuel shortage


Residents walking on a flooded road in Gamba, Tana River County following heavy rains in this picture taken on December 3, 2023. 

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Raging waters have destroyed two sections of Minjila-Mokowe road, cutting off movement to and from Lamu County.
  • The Kenya Red Cross regional coordinator, Hassan Musa, has said 2,119 people have been affected in Lamu and 500 people displaced.

Lamu County is facing a crisis that could shut down the county due to the floods that are wreaking havoc in the Coast region.

The county is already grappling with an acute fuel shortage, raising fears of paralysing boat operations which are the major means of transport. 

The situation has been exacerbated by the raging waters which have destroyed two sections of Minjila-Mokowe road, cutting off movement to and from Lamu County.

The flood waters have increased after River Tana burst its banks, forcing people to resort to using boats to get out of the affected areas. 

On Friday, Kenya Red Cross announced the situation was dire after four camps were marooned forcing people to relocate again.

The current situation has affected many residents, with women and children being the most vulnerable.

Kenya Coast Guard head of search and rescue, Susan Mtakai, expressed concern with cases of lack of maternity services for pregnant women.

“We have been carrying out rescue operations with the most affected being women. We have had cases of women giving birth in marooned areas. We are calling for support from well-wishers,” said Ms Mtakai.

Coast Regional Commissioner, Rhoda Onyancha, said the government is currently carrying out evacuations in the area.

The exercise is being done in collaboration with the Kenya Coast Guard Services, the Kenya Defence Forces and the National Police Service.

“The KDF has availed their choppers to deliver food in the affected areas since several villages in Ozi and Kipini have been marooned by floods and cannot be reached by boats or road,” said Ms Onyancha. 

“The supply of fuel is running low in Lamu County and we are contemplating sing naval ships to ferry supplies to those who have been affected but we still monitoring the situation.”

Meanwhile, the Kenya Red Cross regional coordinator, Hassan Musa, has said atleast 2,119 people have been affected in Lamu with atleast 500 displaced.

“We have established camps in the area and provided non-food items such as blankets, mosquito nets and medical outreaches. We have realised that there are many children and lactating mothers who have been trapped and in need of help,” said Mr Musa.

Families that have been rendered homeless have asked both levels of government to urgently help them relocate to safer grounds.

Reports have also emerged of patients being unable to access Level Five hospitals within the County because of the floods.

“There are cases of patients who need specialized treatment but cannot afford air travel. The government needs to look into the situation and help the affected people seeking health referrals,” added Mr Musa.

Public transport in the County has also turned into a nightmare for passengers who now have to pay as much as Sh2,000 to commute from Lamu County.

In the neighbouring Tana River County, 88 camps have been set up hosting at least 11,167 people displaced by floods. 

Data from the Kenya Red Cross shows that 27,154 people have been affected and evacuations are being conducted to rescue those who are still trapped in the marooned villages.

The worst-hit villages include Darqa, Semikaro, Tarasaa and Shirokisho, where houses have been half submerged.

Several families are already facing the risk of starvation after their food reserves and farmlands were destroyed by the floods. The most affected are children, the elderly and persons living with disabilities.

“We have added more boats in the affected areas to help relocate people because our surveillance has shown that the water levels are rising in some parts of the county,” said Onyancha.

There are also fears of an outbreak of diseases in Lamu and Tana River. As a result, residents have been asked to sink pit latrines and avoid defecating in the open.