Tana River flood victims face food and clean water shortage

River Tana floods

A family shares breakfast by the roadside as they consider their next move after their house was flooded in Kone village, Tana River County in this picture taken on November 5, 2023.

Photo credit: Stephen Oduor | Nation Media Group

Three days after narrowly escaping death, flood victims at the Madogo campsite in Tana River County are facing severe food and water shortages.

Just when the survivors thought they had escaped a potentially tragic situation, they have found themselves in another crisis. Those who spoke to Nation. Africa said they had not eaten for three days since arriving at the camp.

"We have become a nuisance to the people around here. Our children sneak into people's houses to find food. If the situation continues, we could face starvation," said Rehema Bashir, the camp's chairperson.

She said most families arrived at the camp empty-handed because they had not saved anything when their homes were submerged in the floodwaters.

Ms Bashir said that in her village of Mororo, the floods swept away her belongings during the night.

"I was woken up at night by a neighbour who told me that our village was flooded. Indeed, when I woke up, the house was full of water," she said.

Ms Bashir said she grabbed a mat and fled with her four children. She added that her children have become beggars in the camp as they wander from place to place in search of food.

Mr Bakari Ali, another survivor, said that most of the breadwinners had left their jobs because their priority was to ensure the safety of their families.


A man crosses the flooded Mikinduni Road after his house was flooded in Watta Omara village, Tana River County in this picture taken on November 5, 2023.

Photo credit: Stephen Oduor | Nation Media Group

"I do odd jobs in Garissa, so I settled in Mororo. It is a long walk from Madogo, where we are now, to Garissa. We are setting up tents to settle our families first," he said.

Mr Ali appealed to the county administration to help the flood victims. He said families were in desperate need of food and clean water, adding that people had resorted to using stagnant water.

"What more can we do to survive, we can't wait to die of thirst after escaping death from the floods. We will drink whatever water is available," said Iddi Swaleh, a survivor.

Families in the camp are enduring biting cold and mosquitoes at night. Their makeshift shelters are also putting their lives at risk.

 Sokorote Lulutya, project coordinator for the district's Special Programmes Department, said the department had purchased non-food items to be distributed in the camp by the end of the week.

"The situation in the camp is indeed dire and needs urgent attention. We have set up a team to deal with the matter from this week," he said.

At the same time, Mr Lulutya appealed to residents still living in the lowland areas to move to the campsite or to higher ground for safety.

More than 2,000 families have been affected by Sunday's floods.

County Red Cross coordinator Jerald Bombe said many households in Bakuyu, Ziwani and Mororo villages in Bura Constituency were affected.

"We have so far lost two people, an 11-year-old and a 19-year-old, to the flash floods," he said. 

Mr Bombe said the situation in the Tana Delta could be worse, with villages surrounded by water.  More than 300 cattle have now been lost and several schools have been flooded.

"The water level in the river has crossed the five-metre mark, which means we could soon see an overflow. We are glad that many people have heeded our call and moved to safety," he said.