Kisumu floods: Wycliffe’s children stay in a camp

The family moved to an evacuation camp at Nyamasau Primary School

Lucas Odhiambo
Wycliffe Ochieng
23 December 2019

Wycliffe Ochieng, 48, left home with his wife and eight children when heavy rains and floods hit Kisumu county three weeks ago. The family moved to an evacuation camp at Nyamasau Primary School.

‘’When it started raining I was not so worried, but the rains didn’t stop,” Wycliffe says. “It kept raining for days and the water levels increased. The nearby lake overflowed and flooded my house and farm. I couldn’t save my goats and sheep but am glad all my eight children are safe.”

Wycliffe’s family is among 324 households hosted at Nyamasau Primary School evacuation camp. UNICEF and partners have distributed mosquito nets, blankets, solar lamps, handwashing soap, water jerrycans and aqua tablets to families in the camps. Other organisations are providing food and shelter.

When his family first arrived in the camp, they stayed together in a single tent. But as increasing numbers of people arrived, the family was separated. “My wife and children were moved into the classrooms where it’s safer,” Wycliffe explained. “Three of my male neighbours were added into my tent. Its crowded now but I don’t have anywhere else to go.”

Evacuation camp
The evacuation camp at Nyamasau Primary School

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.”

Wycliffe looks out of his tent. Some of the tarpaulin sheets are provided by UNICEF

By Lucas Odhiambo, UNICEF Kenya