East Africa struggles with heavy rains, with more to come

Passengers from stranded vehicles stand next to the debris from floodwaters, on the road from Kapenguria, in West Pokot county, in western Kenya Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. Kenya's interior minister says dozens of people have been killed in mudslides, after heavy rains unleashed overnight floods in western Kenya. (AP Photo)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Flash flooding has hit the small but strategic East African nation of Djibouti, where the government and United Nations said the equivalent of two years’ rain fell in a single day. Several regional countries including Kenya are struggling after heavy rains, with more to come.

A joint Djibouti-U.N. statement on Thursday said up to a quarter-million people have been affected in recent days in the country on the Red Sea that’s home to military bases for the United States, China and others. With heavy rains forecast through the end of the month that number could grow.

Djibouti has been called one of the world’s most vulnerable non-island nations in the face of climate change as sea levels rise. Neighboring Somalia has been hit hard by recent flooding as well.

In Kenya, East Africa’s economic hub, the government said 120 people have been killed in flooding and mudslides during an unusually severe rainy season. More than 60 died over the weekend in West Pokot county.

More than 18,000 people across Kenya are displaced, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society. Infrastructure has been damaged, making aid delivery more difficult.

Doctors are worried that diseases, especially waterborne ones, might spread.

“We have health issues, and is it wounds, is it children who are coming up with pneumonia, is it diarrheal illnesses,” said Dr. Taabu Simiu at the West Pokot County Referral Hospital.

Some survivors are struggling.

“Life here is terrible because we don’t have money, because if someone had their money in the house it was all swept away by the floods,” one survivor, Cherish Limansin, said. “It’s only poverty staring at us here. We wake up with nothing. If it wasn’t for the little help we get we would have nothing and so far today we have eaten nothing.”

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