High energy biscuits airlifted to Kenya to feed 200,000 flood victims

Published on 21 November 2006

A Boeing 747 jumbo jet chartered by WFP has landed in Nairobi, delivering 94 metric tons of high energy biscuits from a depot in Brindisi, Italy, for hundreds of thousands of victims of Kenya’s largest floods in years.

A Boeing 747 jumbo jet chartered by WFP has landed in Nairobi, delivering 94 metric tons of high energy biscuits from a depot in Brindisi, Italy, for hundreds of thousands of victims of Kenya’s largest floods in years.

In addition, the flooding made many roads impassable so some WFP-contracted trucks are stuck in the mud

Burkard Oberle, WFP’s Country Director in Kenya

A second aircraft loaded with another 94 tons of WFP biscuits is expected within days to follow the first flight to the Kenyan capital from the UN Humanitarian Response depot in Brindisi.

The biscuits will be ferried by road to Garissa in eastern Kenya and refugee camps at Dadaab.

Roads impassable

“WFP has food in its warehouses in Kenya but the problem is that many people in northeastern Kenya were forced to leave their homes by the rising waters so they have no firewood to cook food. Some also lost their possessions including cooking pots. So they need biscuits to tide them over,” said Burkard Oberle, WFP’s Country Director in Kenya.

“In addition, the flooding made many roads impassable so some WFP-contracted trucks are stuck in the mud. These biscuits are an immediate response to the worst-hit survivors,” he said.

WFP on Monday launched a US$11.4 million, three-month regional air operation to provide fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters to transport aid workers and humanitarian assistance to more than a million people in flooded areas of Kenya and neighbouring southern Somalia.

The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund will cover the cost of buying the biscuits and transporting them to Kenya.

Refugees

The assistance will be enough for an estimated 100,000 refugees at the Dadaab camps for three days and another 100,000 flood-affected Kenyans for the same period.

A WFP-chartered helicopter left Nairobi on Tuesday to fly WFP and Government of Kenya teams to make three days of on-the-ground assessments of people’s needs in areas that cannot be reached by road following the worst floods in Kenya since 1997.

More than 78,000 mostly Somali refugees living in low-lying camps in eastern Kenya lost their homes when seasonal rivers burst their banks on 11 November after days of heavy rain.

Biscuits

In recent days, WFP and its partner non-governmental organisation, CARE, managed to complete full general food distributions of 14-day rations in both Hagadera and Dagahaley refugee camps near Dadaab.

Hagadera had 55,000 residents and Dagahaley had 37,000 residents.

WFP and CARE also carried out a general food distribution of seven-day rations in Ifo camp, most of which has been flooded for a week.

Those who missed the seven-day distribution because of flooding are receiving high energy biscuits.

Health risks

WFP hopes that by Friday all 54,000 people from Ifo will have received either biscuits or seven days of rations.

The floods affected 90 percent of Ifo’s residents. Many people have moved to higher ground and built small huts from twigs covered with cloth.

During lulls in the rain, refugees wade through deep water to gather firewood and building materials.

Toilets in the housing blocks in the camps overflowed during the floods so health workers fear increasing diarrhoea and other diseases caused by contact with the contaminated water.

Floods follow drought

The United Nations estimates a total of up to 1.8 million people are affected by the floods in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

The floods followed a regional drought earlier this year that killed large numbers of livestock and left millions of people reliant on food aid and other assistance.

Some 200,000 Kenyans in the north and coastal areas who were being fed by WFP cannot be reached by road. The short rains should end in December but they may extend into January.