Kisumu floods: Esther waits to give birth

Esther is expecting her first child in six weeks’ time

Lucas Odhiambo
UNICEFKenya/LucasOdhiambo

23 December 2019

When the recent heavy rains and floods hit Kisumu county, 23-year-old Esther Alouch was newly married and expecting her first child in six weeks’ time. Her home was flooded and most of the family’s crops were destroyed. Esther moved her to the evacuation centre at nearby Nyamasau Primary School, while her husband stayed behind in the flooded compound to look after their property.

“My husband was very worried about my health and our unborn child,” Esther says. “He moved me here so that I could get some help away from the floods. I hope the rains stop soon before I gives birth. I want to go back home and be with my husband.”

Since the floods, UNICEF has supported families like Esther’s with relief items such as mosquito nets, blankets, solar lamps, jerrycans, soap and aqua tablets. Other partners are providing food and shelter. At this centre, 74 solar lamps light up the rooms hosting pregnant women and children.

“I received a mattress and a mosquito net from UNICEF,” Esther says. “I was set up in room with other pregnant women. The room is crowded but we are safe. “We drink water treated with aqua tablets distributed by UNICEF and get enough food. But I am still worried about my husband. I hope he is safe.” 

UNICEFKenya/LucasOdhiambo
Area Chief Jacob Ongodi distributes buckets to women with young children

Nyamasau Primary School is home to one of the evacuation camps located in Nyando Sub-County, Kisumu County. It hosts a total of 324 households displaced by the floods in Western Kenya. Two villages within a kilometer from the camp are currently under water.

Area Chief Jacob Ongodi says children, women and the elderly were the most affected. “Our shallow wells and boreholes have been completely submerged, not only denying us clean drinking water but also posing security risks to people moving in this area,” he says as he helps UNICEF and partners distribute buckets to women with children under the age of five.

UNICEF’s response

UNICEF has sent supplies in response to the heavy rains and floods experienced in Kenya since mid-October, bringing relief to around 130,000 affected people. Damage to essential infrastructure including roads, schools and health facilities has disrupted access to critical services for children and families.

Support from UNICEF includes pre-positioned supplies that are stored in flood and drought-prone areas in case of emergencies. The organization is also working with communities to improve their emergency preparedness.

“UNICEF will continue to support the ongoing flood response, in order to ensure that children are safe, healthy, and able to continue their education” Maniza Zaman said. “At the same time, it is vital that we work with communities in flood-affected areas, to better prepare them for the next natural disaster.”

UNICEFKenya/LucasOdhiambo
Esther points at her flooded compound in Kisumu, where her husband is still staying

By Lucas Odhiambo, UNICEF Kenya