Caritas mobilises over Kenyan floods

Caritas Australia has offered $50,000 towards relief efforts in Kenya following extreme flooding that swept away the homes of 75,000 people in the southern coastal regions of the East African nation.

As the floods peaked at up to 12 metres, many people spent up to three days taking refuge in trees as the waters washed away their homes and destroyed all their recently harvested crops, a Caritas Australia statement says.

Food and urgent medical attention has been provided to people who have been sheltering from the rain in schools and other available buildings.

Simon Stroud from Caritas Australia's Africa team said that "plastic sheeting for temporary shelter and adequate food and water supplies are our immediate priority."

The main thrusts of the relief effort over the next month will focus on five main areas including potable water following a major loss of water supplies have been contaminated by the flooding and diarrhoeal diseases, which is affecting many, particularly children.

Chemicals used to clean water are also in low supply. Caritas says water supply is crucial in the next few weeks.

Malaria prevention is also high on Caritas' agenda for relief efforts as the affected areas are prone to malaria epidemics.

More than 20,000 people have lost their homes in the flood and need shelters and urgent supplies of blankets and household utensils are an immediate priority, according to the statement.

Sanitation is a major issue with more than 50 per cent of all toilets destroyed.

"Sanitation was already poor before the floods and now many of the latrines that did exist have overflowed or collapsed so we have to address that need," Mr Stroud said.

"We will also be working with local health facilities to support the prevention of an outbreak of waterborne diseases like cholera, as well as malaria which will inevitably increase as the water subsides - leaving ideal conditions for mosquitoes to breed."

Mr Stroud says that once the immediate humanitarian needs have been met, Caritas will make further contributions for a rehabilitation plan.

Caritas Australia supports victims of Kenyan floods (Caritas Australia, 7/12/06)

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Caritas Australia

8 Dec 2006