Remba Island in Homa Bay county has been affected by the increasing water levels in Lake Victoria. [James Omoro, Standard]. See comments below

Current count in Kenya as of Thursday, May 14: 758 confirmed cases, 42 deaths, 284 recovered, and 36,918 people tested for the virus. This is an increase in the last week of 151 confirmed cases 13 deaths, 87 recovered, and 8,916 people tested (1,274 per day). Kenya has 14 cases per million people while the United States has 4,321 cases per million people and 0.8 deaths per million people while the United States has 257 deaths per million people. 


Plagues in Kenya seem to pile up on each other. In my previous reports I have covered the locust invasion and the Covid-19 epidemic. Now there is another plague – flooding and mudslides from excessive rainfall.

While 758 people in Kenya have tested positive for Covid-19, over 150,000 people have been displaced by flooding and landslides. As of yesterday there have been 235 deaths in Kenya from flooding and landslides and 42 from Covid-19. There are none that I know of from the locust. The higher number of deaths for flooding and landslides compared to Covid-19 is pause for reflection. Flooding not only kills people and forces many more to flee their homes, but often their homes are destroyed, livestock killed, and flooded fields give no harvest. Roads and bridges are destroyed and need to be rebuilt. The Kenyan Government, the Kenyan Red Cross Society, and others rush to fill the needs for food and housing for these victims and repair the infrastructure, but the response is short of the massive needs.

Moreover these three plagues interact with each other. The curtailment of travel in response to Covid-19 has made logistics of getting the personnel, insecticides, and equipment to the appropriate places to spray the locust swarms. Then the almost daily rains have made the spraying impossible because the rains wash away the insecticide before it becomes effective. Moreover the continued rains have meant that the vegetation that the locusts love to eat has strived, thereby increasing their ability to multiply. The rains destroy the roads and bridges, inhibiting the flooding and landslide relief. The emphasis on Covid-19 has impacted the interest in the country in tackling the locust menace, while the floods and mud slides have impacted the response to Covid-19. As 150,000 people flee their homes to makeshift accommodation in schools or temporary huts, how can social distancing for Covid-19 be implemented?

It has been raining heavily since October last year. Normally the short raining season from October to December has only a modest amount of rain. But this last short rainy season was extremely heavy and continued through not only December, but in to January and February. There was hardly any normal dry season before the rains began again in March. The lakes behind all the nation’s dams are filled and overflowing. In some cases there is need to spill excessive water from the dams which are flooding the land downstream. People are being asked to evacuate the flood prone areas from these dam releases.

The most remarkable result of this is that Lake Victoria has risen over three feet above its normal level. This has flooded some of the inhabited islands in the lake (see picture above) and forced people living close to the shore to leave their homes. This has affected tens of thousands of people. This rise in the level of Lake Victoria is an issue also in Uganda and Tanzania on their lake shores. Other lakes in Kenya are flooding, forcing people to move away from the shores. Note that this is a precursor to the three feet of ocean rise that is predicted to impact millions of people in the world by 2100.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I have added a picture gallery below for you to envision the magnitude of the problems here in Kenya. This excessive rainfall and flooding is likewise impacting all the other eastern Africa countries.

Flooding in Eldoret city where we go for shopping.

Temporary houses on higher land after the homes were flooded from rising waters of Lake Victoria.


A picture of the flooding destroying houses and farms in western Kenya. Image credit: Kenya Red Cross Society.

Residents use a boat to carry their belongings through the waters after their homes were flooded in Budalangi, Busia County, Kenya, May 3, 2020. (Reuters Photo)

Some of the destruction at Kainuk bridge in Turkana county following heavy rains on May 6, 2018. /HESBOUN ETYANG

Some of the destruction at Kainuk bridge in Turkana county following heavy rains on May 6, 2018. /HESBOUN ETYANG.

Kenya mudslide

Destruction caused by a mudslide.


Here is the current case load in nearby African countries (plus the United States for comparison) as of Thursday, May 7. The increase is compared to the previous week’s total number of cases. The total population of these 8 countries is 306 million people, while the total population of the United States is 333 million people.

South Sudan2037412902
Eastern Africa3,3782,667711121930
United States1,425,6561,292,623217,25085,197310,259

*Burundi has not undated its statistics this past week.

**Tanzania has updated its statistics only once this past week.


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David Zarembka

Phone 254 (0)726 590 783
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