KENYA: Flood waters add to IDPs’ misery

Vumilia IDP camp chairlady Agnes Wairimu shows books that have been destroyed by recent floods/Photo: Rachel Kibui/IRIN
More than three years after being chased from their homes into squalid camps, hundreds of families at several sites in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province, the worst affected in the 2008 post-election violence, now have to contend with a new assault on their wellbeing: dirty flood water.

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“We have to spend some nights at nearby Murindu Primary school when our tents flood,” said Agnes Wairimu, chairwoman of the Vumilia Camp in Gilgil, along the Nairobi-Nakuru route.

“We had to return [to camp] last Sunday [4 September] as the schools were set to re-open on Monday, yet most of us had filthy flood water in our tents,” said Wairimu.

The affected families are in the low-lying Vumilia Camp and neighbouring Wanaruona and Kihoto camps.

The raging flood water swept waste from the camp’s shallow latrines into IDP tents.

“I had to throw away about 50kg of beans, which I had kept for my family, as [they] were badly contaminated,” said George Mwangi, a camp resident.

When IRIN visited the Vumilia Camp, Mwangi was shifting what was left of his tent and belongings to higher ground.

“I have to squeeze myself on a neighbour’s bed and spread out my family members to well-wishers in the camp [for accommodation],” said Mwangi, a father of three.

“The ground is too wet and the tent still smells awful.”

Mwangi said he planned to heap some soil into the tent to make a temporary bed as he could not afford a new one.

At Gwakung’u camp in neighbouring Nyandarua County, more families were forced out of their tents to a nearby shopping centre by flood waters.

Camp chairman Charles Kariuki warned of the risk of waterborne diseases.

“The flood waters had human waste, yet some people cooked food which was soaked by the water, having nothing else to [eat].”

ICC progress

Despite the flooding, the IDPs are closely following the ongoing proceedings against poll violence suspects at the International Criminal Court (ICC), which are being broadcast live on most local radio and television stations.

Peter Mukuri, an IDP, has to ask his fellow camp members about the proceedings after his radio was destroyed by the flood waters.

“I cannot tell how far it has gone, but I know MP [Member of Parliament] William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang are already at the court,” said Mukuri.

Ruto and Sang are among suspects before the ICC for confirmation hearings over their role in the post-poll violence. Other suspects include MP Henry Kiprono Kosgey, Francis Kirimi Muthaura, head of the civil service, Uhuru Kenyatta, finance minister, and former police commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali.

The IDPs in the camps are awaiting government resettlement on alternative land.



Theme (s): Natural Disasters, Refugees/IDPs,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]