Emergency in Kenya & East Africa as Flooding Hits
In April 2018, especially heavy annual rains broke the drought in East Africa, particularly along the Tana River and in at least 40 counties across Kenya. The sheer volume of water has caused widespread and devastating flooding. As of the 1st week in May, more than 310,000 people have been displaced by the effects, with the death toll into the hundreds and surely rising given the problems of reporting in these widespread and remote regions. Many of the communities affected have endured drought for a number of years, causing severe acute malutrition (strongly correlated to disease morbidity and mortality) in certain areas. These conditions are perfect for diseases such as malaria and dengue fever to escalate into epidemics, at a time when the affected communities have the least access to any form of protection or healthcare. Prolonged drought and malnutrition followed by massive rainfall and flooding in this area has led to devastating malaria epidemics in the past, and if preventative action is not taken immediately, the communities of this region remain at extremely high risk of infection and death.
The flooding currently seen in these regions provides the ideal conditions for the expansion of mosquito populations which brings increased disease transmission. The two vectors of concern are the anopheles mosquito, primarily responsible for the transmission of malaria in the region, and aedes aegypti, responsible for the transmission of multiple diseases including dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Whereas anopheles mosquitoes prefer to breed in clean, open, still surface water (like that which remains in large areas such as fields as flood waters dissipate or along the edges of slower streams or rivers), aedes mosquitoes will happily breed in small and even dirty containerised waters (inside buckets and water containers, standing water in rubbish/refuse like plastic bags, and used bottles, etc). Both of these water conditions will be found in direct proximity to the groups of people displaced by the flooding and those living along the banks of the Tana River. We are expecting a sharp rise in cases of malaria and dengue fever for these communities.
The MENTOR Initiative is currently working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Division of Malaria Control and Country Health teams, in coordination with UN agencies and Kenya Red Cross, to build the resilience of communities, health systems, and local implementing partners in emergency preparedness and response to deal with this problem. MENTOR are proposing to target up to 30 health facilities and dozens of health workers and hundreds of community volunteers for support, providing Indoor Residual Spraying for 140k+ people, and Information, Education, and Communication programmes through local radio, schools, mosques and the like to enhance uptake of Vector Borne Disease case management and prevention services which will cover a projected greater than 80% of the target area populations. This work will be conducted in line with MENTOR’s long history and proven track record of delivering similar programmes to control vectors and mitigate disease in some of the most remote and austere parts of the world.
See the European Commission report on conditions and impacts from the Emergency Response Coordination Center (ERCC) below: