Kenya Red Cross Comes To The Aid Of Flood-victim, Homa Bay Resident Karen Auma Akoka
Following the onset of March – April – May (MAM) rains, Kenya experienced severe flooding and the situation generated into a humanitarian crisis resulting into displacement of households, loss of lives and destruction of livelihoods across the country. The impact of the floods on livelihoods resulted into loss of income for the affected communities, and negatively impacted their purchasing power resulting in deteriorating food security in the affected counties.
KRCS responded to the plight of people affected in Kenya with support from Department for International Development of UK Government (DFID) through British Red Cross. The intervention covered 14 counties in areas of Shelter, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Health and Livelihood.
The livelihood component targeted provision of livelihood support to 2,170 most floods affected households in Kisumu, Busia and Homabay counties. The three Counties were the most affected in the region.
“The livelihoods recovery project is supported by funding from DFID through BRC and the support was delivered through unconditional cash transfers with a few items for irrigation given as in-kind distributions. Cash transfer interventions have not only helped revive local markets after disasters, but have also given beneficiaries the power to choose their own recovery pathways,” Fredrick Mbok Orimba, National Cash Transfers Programme Officer at KRCS who was instrumental in the implementation of the project said.
Karen Auma Akoka, a widow and a mother of three from Wang Chieng ward recently benefited from the cash transfer programme.
“I love this area very much, generations of our family consider this to be an ancestral home. I feed my family by selling milk at our local marketplace and doing this has enabled me to educate my three children who are now in primary school. Earlier this year in April, we were hit by a surprising flood. This area is prone to flooding but this year it was more intense. The water levels were much higher than usual. The river adjacent to our village bursts it banks without inhibitions whenever the rains come. As a result, we are usually prepared in advance with canopies that divert waters around our houses or raised shelters for our livestock,” Karen narrated.
“On the particular day when the flooding had occurred, I had just gone to the market to sell my milk as I usually do. It was one of my best business days as the market was busy and loads of customers had been paid. End month is usually a blessing for businesspeople.” She said. “I was heading home from an exhausting but rewarding day when I encountered some of my neighbors heading towards Osodo Primary school, the place we usually go to when there are evacuation efforts in the village. I am fortunate enough to have neighbors who safely took my children to the school but unfortunately there was nothing else we managed to salvage.”
Konyango village in Wang Chieng ward is situated in Rachuonyo North, Homabay County. The area is vastly populated with majority of those affected by floods living in the wetland areas along the shores of Lake Victoria.
“My animals including goats, chicken and my cow all drowned, I lost all my kitchen utensils and furniture, we only had the clothes on our backs plus the money I had just earned in the market that day. Thankfully, Kenya Red Cross responded rapidly. Soon after, at Osodo Primary School, we were provided with blankets, bathing soap some food and cooking utensils. We were over 400 families and the predicament of mutual suffering brought us closer. There was a sense of unity in all our mundane tasks including cooking and laundry,” Karen continued.
“When Kenya Red Cross arrived, they sensitized the community on the kind of support they would be giving, the donor and the use of cash transferred plus accountability mechanism in place. After the registration, verification and validation by our area chief, I received Ksh. 13,000. I used this money to buy three goats (One male and two female), a panga, jembe some seeds and 2 Kg of maize seed.”
Their farms were water logged and as a result, the crops withered. The lake water also got polluted reducing the fishing activities. In this area, 400 families were identified as beneficiaries.
“Thanks to you all, our lives are being restored. Our housing structures had minimum damage which we repaired using cow dung and manure. I have already planted some seeds in my kitchen garden awaiting my own farm produce which will feed us as a family in the near future. Soon, my goats will give birth too and ill add to my collection of farm animals. I don’t know what we would have done without the help of Kenya Red Cross”.
Karen is looking forward to reporting her progress being an ambassador for the great work that Kenya Red Cross does in Homabay County.