Flooding displaces 200,000 in Kenya

May 24, 2024 | Web First
Katie Doke Sawatzky |
Adhel Rou of Grace Mennonite Church in Regina (left). Supplied photo. Samson Omondi Ongode (right) is moderator of the Kenya Mennonite Church. Photo courtesy of MWC.

“Unprecedented and devastating” flooding in Eastern Africa has caused the displacement of 235,000 people in just five days, according to a UN report


Countries most affected include Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia and Tanzania. In total, the UN estimates 637,000 people are affected, including tens of thousands of refugees. Over 200 people have died.


In Kenya alone over 200,000 people have been displaced.


Adhel Rou, 27, who attends Grace Mennonite Church in Regina is a South Sudanese refugee who was born in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. The camp, which is next to the Tarach River, has been impacted by the flooding, Rou said.


“Western Kenya is part of the Rift Valley, which experiences landslides during heavy rains,” she said. 


Keeping watch for news in the region, Rou explained that people usually move to other places when it rains but that they can’t this time because of the severity of the floods.


“They just saw their house carried away,” Rou said.


Rou’s family experienced floods in Kakuma when she was younger. The house she was born in washed away when she was 7 years old and she recalls another flood in 2018, a year before she moved to Canada.


The flood season this year is exacerbated by El Niño, which is made more extreme by global warming, according to the World Meterological Organization.


In a video shared by Mennonite World Conference (MWC) during an online prayer hour on May 17, presiding moderater of Kenya Mennonite Church, Samson Omondi Ongode, asked for prayer from the global church.


Describing how a swelling Lake Victoria, whose eastern shores reach into Western Kenya, and bursting riverbanks have destroyed property, livestock and claimed lives, Ongode said, “the situation is devastating, pathetic and unbearable.”


On May 6, MWC president Henk Stenvers issued a pastoral letter calling for prayer for the Kenya Mennonite Church.

Scott and Anne Marie Stoner-Eby, Mennonite Central Committee representatives for Kenya and Tanzania, said families of students who attend Mukuru Mennonite Academy in the capital of Nairobi have moved, “salvaging what they can of the metal sheeting and wooden poles from which their basic homes are constructed.”


While Kenyans have complained about their government’s lack of proper drainage infrastructure, Rou pointed out that refugees have no one to complain to when they experience natural disasters in a country that isn’t their own.


“We were just moved to another place,” she said.


Rou, who still has family and friends in Kakuma Refugee Camp, requested prayer from her congregation for the country. Despite her doubt over how it would help, she said, “The Bible says when two or three are gathered in my name, I am within them.”


Even if the rains don’t stop, Rou prays for good Samaritans to open up their homes for those displaced. “I have seen that happening on social media: people are distributing their houses,” she said

Adhel Rou of Grace Mennonite Church in Regina (left). Supplied photo. Samson Omondi Ongode (right) is moderator of the Kenya Mennonite Church. Photo courtesy of MWC.

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