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27 May 2024 - News


Ashley looks at one of her books which was destroyed by the floods. Photo Courtesy|Gideon Sigilai, Save the Children

By Dorothy Waweru

On a chilly Friday morning, a day when the President of Kenya, declared a national tree planting day in memory of those affected by the floods, we meet 11-year-old Ashley playing outside her former home. Former, as it is now inhabitable. Ashley’s hearty laughter perhaps a cure to the predicament that befell her family because of the ongoing floods in Kenya.

Inside Ashley’s former house, we see her mother, Lilian busy stocking piles of dirty clothes into basins to wash them. Most of the clothes were swept away by the floods and the remaining ones are filled with mud evidence of the destruction caused by the floods. Lilian, a mother of three and the sole bread winner of her family narrates to us of how the floods woke her and her three children in the wee hours of the night, close to three weeks ago and from then her life has taken a sudden unknown turn. The events of that fateful day are still fresh in her mind.

“It was around midnight when we were woken up with sounds of raging waters. The rains exceeded our expectations, forcing their way into our home and leaving me with no choice but to run for safety with my children. My household items including clothes, a gas cooker, cooking pots and my children’s school items were carried away by the raging waters. I only managed to save my three children. Right now, I have come back to see what was left of my home and all I see are dirty clothes which I intend to wash since the clothes my daughter and I have are only the ones we are wearing now,” says Lilian.

At a distance, Ashley continues to play with other children perhaps to shift her focus from the sorrow of losing her pens, books and pencils to the floods. Lilian tells us that she was forced to take her two younger children to their grandparents' house kilometres away from their shattered home as the floods left her homeless with no source of income.

Since their house was destroyed, Lilian says that she and her daughter have been sleeping in their neighbours friends’ houses and that she only comes in the morning to clean some items spared in her house. Despite many agencies visiting areas of residence impacted by the floods within Nairobi County and other counties in the country, Lilian says that she has not received any monetary or in kind support.

Part of Ashley's neighborhood in Nairobi's informal settlements destroyed by the floods. Photo Courtesy|Gideon Sigilai, Save the Children

“My plea is to get some financial assistance which will enable me to relocate into a more conducive home and take my children back to school. I am worried that if we stay in a compound that is filled with water my daughter and other children will get sick. I have heard that some children have started to vomit and diarrhoea and have been rushed to hospital, “says Lilian

Ashley who is in grade 6 in one of the schools in Nairobi mentions that she is excited that schools are re-opening but is sad because she has lost almost all of her school items.

“I have lost my books, school bag and pens to the water. The books that were spared are all filled with water, I cannot write on them, and I have one old school bag that was left which is not in a very good condition. I urge our leaders to help children like me with books, bags, pens, pencils, shoes and school uniform so that we can be comfortable when we go back to school,” says Ashley

She tells us that one of the greatest fears she has while playing with other children in flooded playgrounds is to get sick with diarrhoea. Her hope is that they can relocate to another safe home where there are no floods so that she can play freely without fear of getting sick.

“When I go back to school, I will do my best and once I finish my studies, I would like to be a tailor so that I can make beautiful dresses for people,” says Ashley

As we leave Lilian’s home, the distress in her eyes is evident and her only appeal is to receive help from government or anyone who would want to improve the life of not just her but other families affected by the floods.

“My prayer is that my children will get a comfortable home, go back to school, and achieve their dreams. I also hope that after I settle down in a new home, I can find a job since my children are looking up to me to provide all their needs, “says Lilian.

Save the Children is complementing government and other stakeholder efforts by providing cash transfers, distributing hygiene kits, household kits and water treatment kits. The organisation is also providing education kits to support the back-to-school agenda. Jointly with the Directorate of Children Services and other partners, we will keep monitoring the situation while providing the much-needed protection services including training communities to share any protection concerns through a Save the Children short message alert (SMS) number 25855, child help line toll free number 116 and Gender-Based Violence free hotline 1195.

"The impact of the floods on children is disastrous and threatens their rights. As a child rights organisation, we recognise the importance of coordination of efforts to ensure that children's lives and those of their families are restored to normalcy. We are working round the clock to deliver lifesaving interventions such as cash transfers to affected households in Nairobi and Garissa Counties and are calling for support from private sector, development partners and well wishers to scale up our response. We also advise parents and caregivers to exercise caution as schools re-open," Mohamed Abdiladif , Acting Country Director , Save the Children Kenya & Madagascar.