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2 April 2024 - News


Feisal Bihi, Food Security Livelihoods Officer, Save the Children interviewing Saadia outside their home.

By Feisal Bihi

Following the onslaught of floods triggered by El Niño in November 2023, Garissa County found itself grappling with a crisis of massive proportions. Thousands of families were displaced, their lives disrupted, and they faced a multitude of challenges, including the looming threat of waterborne diseases and the strains of emotional and financial instability.

In response to this dire situation, Save the Children, leveraging the Humanitarian Fund (HF), embarked on a mission to extend crucial cash assistance to 100 households profoundly affected by the floods. This initiative was not merely about addressing immediate needs but was conceived as a means to empower and uplift vulnerable communities in the aftermath of El Niño's destructive force.

A community-driven approach served as the guiding principle throughout the identification, registration, and verification process, which commenced in early December in 2023. The focus was on households directly impacted by the floods, spanning various villages across Maalimin and Sankuri Wards in Garissa County. Sadia Ibrahim, aged 29, is one of the community members who benefited from cash assistance. She vividly recounts how her family endured the devastating impact of the floods.

"My husband, our five young children, and I reside in a modest manyatta (traditional house) that was nearly swept away by the floods. We sought refuge from our neighbors as our home became uninhabitable. The exorbitant costs of construction materials such as cement, iron sheets, timber, and labor have hindered our ability to rebuild a more permanent dwelling. We live in constant fear of being displaced again if the floods return," Saadia lamented.

Saadia elaborated on the dire situation during the floods in Garissa County, highlighting the disruption of essential services and the soaring cost of food and basic commodities. "My family was on the verge of starvation. My husband, who earns a living as a donkey cart rider selling firewood, faced immense challenges accessing flooded forests during the El Niño period," she recalled.

"The floods not only washed away our belongings, including food, utensils, and bedding but also left us feeling despondent. The aftermath of the flooding continues to haunt us," she continued. "In December, I received 10,000 Kenyan Shillings, which proved to be a lifeline. With this assistance, I was able to procure essential food supplies and replace crucial household items."

"The timely cash assistance not only provided us with the means to purchase food but also addressed health concerns caused by the floods. Save the Children, in addition to the cash aid, supplied us with mosquito nets and mats. These provisions protected us from mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria," Saadia explained gratefully.

“The interventions facilitated by the HF in select sub-counties within Garissa represent a pivotal aspect of a comprehensive strategy aimed at providing financial aid to vulnerable populations. Furthermore, it seeks to make substantial contributions to the long-term recovery and resilience of communities, including those residing in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, “says Feisal Bihi, Food Security & Livelihoods Officer, Save the Children.

This strategic approach goes beyond addressing immediate hardships; it lays the groundwork for sustained empowerment and resilience against future challenges. The overarching goal is to foster a community that is not only more resilient but also self-reliant. Cash transfers, initially designed to offer immediate relief and alleviate poverty, have emerged as catalysts for enhancing the resilience of impoverished households. In addition to meeting urgent needs, these transfers play a vital role in fortifying communities against various risks and shocks.

Expressing her gratitude, Saadia emphasized the comprehensive support provided by Save the Children.

 "Their assistance extends beyond this crisis. Previously, they rehabilitated and solarized our borehole, ensuring a reliable supply of fresh water for both humans and livestock," she added.

With additional Non-Allocated Funds (NAF), Save the Children also distributed mats, mosquito nets, and tarpaulin to 240 households Saadia’s being among them. This initiative was a critical component of the flood response strategy aimed at providing relief to affected families, particularly offering protection against the heightened vector population, such as mosquitoes. This preventive measure was crucial for safeguarding vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant and lactating women (PLWs), and the elderly, from diseases such as malaria.

The targeting mechanisms for cash assistance ensure that funds are directed toward the most vulnerable and at-risk populations affected by flooding. This dual focus on addressing immediate needs and facilitating long-term recovery efforts underscores the commitment to building a stronger and more resilient community fabric.