KENYA – The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a stark warning regarding the potential for a surge in food-borne diseases in Kenya as the country grapples with widespread flooding.

The alert, issued from Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, underlines the urgent need for action to mitigate the health risks posed by contaminated food and deteriorating sanitation conditions.

With heavy rains pounding different parts of Kenya, the ongoing floods have led to devastating consequences, claiming over 260 lives and displacing more than 378,000 individuals. The crisis has engulfed 41 out of the country’s 47 counties, exacerbating living conditions in congested camps set up in schools and churches.

WHO-Kenya’s alert highlights the heightened risk of food-borne illnesses due to the congestion in makeshift camps and the damage inflicted on sanitation infrastructure, particularly in Nairobi.

The recent cholera outbreak in Tana River County, where 44 cases have been reported, serves as a grim reminder of the looming health threats posed by the floods.

To mitigate the risk of contaminated food diseases, WHO-Kenya emphasizes the importance of stringent food safety practices, including thorough cooking, proper storage, and enhanced personal hygiene. These measures are crucial for safeguarding the health and well-being of those affected by the floods amidst challenging circumstances.

Amidst the crisis, WHO pledges ongoing support for health emergency response efforts and underscores the need for swift action to contain potential disease outbreaks. Collaboration between government agencies and partners is essential in delivering relief to the thousands of affected individuals across the country.

“We must be agile and ready to respond, led by the government and along with the partners, to bring relief to hundreds and thousands of affected people,” Abdourahmane Diallo, WHO representative in Kenya, said.

The flooding has also disrupted critical infrastructure, with at least 14 health facilities shuttered in various parts of Kenya and a major water treatment plant contaminated. These challenges further compound the urgency of the situation and highlight the need for comprehensive and coordinated response efforts.

Kenya is not alone in facing the consequences of severe flooding, with neighboring countries also grappling with displacement and rising humanitarian needs. As rains intensify across the region, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warns of escalating displacement figures and underscores the imperative of proactive measures to address the mounting challenges.

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.