About 20 people have died following heavy rains across the country for several days.
The downpours have also displaced more than 20,000 households and left a trail of destruction.
On Saturday, the Kenya Red Cross Society told the Sunday Nation that they have documented 18 deaths so far — four each in Marakwet, Kitui, Meru, Turkana and two in Wajir.
There are fears that the numbers could rise even as Kenya Meteorological Department warns in their weekly report that rainfall intensities are likely to increase in parts of the northeast, the highlands east and west of the Rift Valley, the southeast lowlands and the coast.
“The situation could worsen due to the ongoing rains and we are asking Kenyans to observe safety measures including carrying umbrellas, being on the lookout for flash floods, moving to higher grounds and not to drive, walk or swim through flooded areas or moving water,” said Red Cross Communications Manager Peter Abwao.
He said they are looking at the next course of action, which is to set up camps for displaced families especially in Wajir where about 8,000 households had been displaced and Mandera where 5,000 households have been affected.
“We are currently assessing as to whether we need temporary shelters. Some have found themselves safer grounds so far, but some may need assistance until the floods subside,” said Mr Abwao.
The latest deaths of two people were reported Saturday after flash floods wreaked havoc in Turkana County following heavy rain on Friday, which the Red Cross fears might have left more casualties.
Turkana Central Sub-County Police Commander David Mburukwa told the Sunday Nation that the two died after floods that marooned hundreds of villagers in both Turkana Central and Loima sub-county persisted.
“We have retrieved a body at Lodwar Livestock Market and moved it to the Lodwar County and Referral Hospital and another one at Loima. This is besides many livestock that have been swept away,” Mr Mburukwa said.
He said that transport and business activities had been paralysed along Kitale-Lodwar and Lokichogio road after the usually dry river beds burst their banks.
The floods also washed away a tarmac road near the flooded Moi Gardens Stadium where Mashujaa Day celebrations will be held.
Turkana Women Representative Joyce Emanikor appealed to both the county and national governments as well as the NGOs to intervene.
The weatherman warned that there will be heavy rains in the coastal region including Mombasa, especially in the early morning hours over several places of the county.
“This will then give way to sunny intervals the rest of the morning. The afternoon will have sunny intervals and at night there is a chance of a shower. Wind will be 11km/h flowing from the southeast direction,” said Mombasa County Director of Meteorology Edward Ngure has explained.
The maximum temperature will be 30°C and the minimum temperature will be 24°C and the relative humidity will be 80 percent.
“Warmer-than-usual sea surface temperature has developed near Africa’s east coast. Cooler-than-usual sea surface temperature has formed off the northwest coast of Australia.
This means our region (including Mombasa) has a high chance of receiving enhanced rainfall now and in the coming months,” he said.
Heavy downpour pounding parts of western Kenya has wreaked havoc in parts of the region with Busia bearing the greatest brunt of crop destruction on farms.
Already, an alert has been given over floods in Teso North and South in Busia where hundreds of residents are counting losses after waters swept away their crops and waterlogged their houses.
Several families have been left homeless in Kamolo, Katanyu and Onyunyur villages in Teso North and Akiriamasi and Ngelechom in Teso South ad Red Cross plans rescue operations while monitoring Nyando and Budalang’i that are prone to floods.
In Siaya, the heavy downpour has affected an estimated 500 residents of Yimbo East ward in Bondo.
Area MCA Francis Otiato said the rain has destroyed farmland around the expansive Yala swamp.
The MCA told Sunday Nation on Friday that besides crops, raging floods have killed animals, leaving some of the homesteads submerged.
He said Achuodho, Magombe, Bur IRO, Mago and Ndiwo were the most affected.
“Major cause of flooding in Achuodho and Magombe is the illegal weir built by the Dominion farm above initial allowable heights,” he said.
Heavy rains continued to pound most parts of the county such as Rarieda, Bondo, Alego Usonga, Ugunja and Gem but the police in the area said no deaths had been reported, so far.
In Homa Bay, families living in low areas have been advised to move to higher ground to avoid floods. The residents appealed for government intervention.
The 68-year-old Murunga accused the government of employing stopgap measures whenever the region is hit by floods instead of finding a lasting solution.
“We are tired of being lured with relief food whenever the region experiences floods. We want the government to construct dykes similar to those in Budalang’i along River Malakisi to control water flow.”
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.