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Kenyan churches seek humanitarian support for flood victims

From opening church doors to providing food and shelter, Kenyan churches are offering an initial response to the nation’s growing flood crisis.

The denominations are appealing for humanitarian support for people who have been left without shelter, food, water and medicines in the growing emergency.

Churches have been compelled to accept families into their compounds after the gushing water submerged or swept away homes.

At least 260,000 people have been displaced, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society and at least 112 people have died in 12 out of the country’s 47 counties.

“The situation is overwhelming. The floods are everywhere across the country. The people urgently need shelter and other basic needs,” said Anglican Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit of Kenya. “We have communicated that pastors make available churches as places of shelter for the displaced families.”

Archbishop Sapit appealed to residents in soggy environments or areas prone to landslides to move to higher ground. He also urged the citizens to be vigilant and patient on the roads to avoid being swept away by the floods.

Bishop Zachariah Kahuthu, head of Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church, also described the dire situation.

“Our clergy have told us that the congregations in the flooded areas are suffering. They have opened the church doors to the populations, but we must act fast to save lives,” he said.

The most affected regions are in the coastal, northeastern and western regions. The floods have blocked roads and broken bridges, disrupting transport and movement in the east African nation, meaning that the clergy cannot access some churches and schools.

An estimated 22,000 acres of farmland have been washed away and 19,000 livestock killed.

“It is a wake-up call for everyone to rethink environmental stewardship. We have cut down most of the trees, which would have slowed down the flow of water down the hills,” said Archbishop Sapit.

Caritas Kenya, the humanitarian wing of the Roman Catholic Church, in an emergency humanitarian appeal, said displaced communities needed relief food, items such as mosquito nets, water jerry cans, blankets, emergency medical supplies, temporary shelter (plastic sheets) and evacuation of populations living in flood-prone areas.

“We appeal to…our Christians and all people of good will to exercise their generous acts of charity to make contributions both in cash and in-kind in support of the affected populations,” said Stephen Kituku, Caritas Kenya national director.

The flooding is being viewed as a consequence of global climate change. Before the rains, the regions were experiencing a severe drought that had left communities needing relief food, water, and pastures.

“We were still responding to the prolonged drought when the rains came. The two have just alternated,” said Bishop Kahuthu.

Without an immediate response, water-borne diseases are feared. For example, cases of diarrhoea have been recorded in Dadaab refugee camp and a cholera outbreak is feared.

Pit latrines are reportedly spilling raw sewage in the camp, which houses over 200,000 refugees. Rising water has forced the refugees to shelter in schools.

This article was first published on the World Council of Churches website.



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