As tropical storm Kyarr makes its way towards East Africa, expected to make landfall in the coming days, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) calls on the international community to mobilize quickly and ready resources to enable actors to respond to the devastation quickly and efficiently.

Higher than normal rainfall in East Africa has caused massive flooding across the region, impacting more than 1 million people in South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia, destroying crops, homes and health facilities and forcing more than 600,000 people in South Sudan and 273,000 in Somalia from their homes. 

Kurt Tjossem, Vice President of East Africa at the International Rescue Committee, said, 

“This impending storm is sure to compound the damage already done after weeks of heavy rains and flooding across East Africa. It will destroy homes and crops and force thousands more to flee and seek shelter and safety. The region is still reeling from a period of severe drought which left many families unable to feed their children. This further damage to life and livelihood is likely to have long lasting consequences on the most vulnerable who are only just getting back on their feet.” 

The IRC is already assessing the damage done over the past days and weeks and responding in the most hard hit areas of South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia. Yesterday an assessment team reached Beledweyne, Somalia as water began to recede and began preparations to provide health and water and sanitation services to those most affected. 

In South Sudan, our teams are already seeing an increase in death due to malaria, watery diarrhea and deteriorating healthcare and water and sanitation systems. In Kenya, many IRC programs in the north are halted due to damage and inaccessibility of the roads, meaning there are many communities we cannot reach with life-saving programs. We are also seeing an upsurge of cholera and damage to water systems and are working with the Kenya government to address these needs.

As this region experienced a severe drought earlier this year, more than 12 million people in Somalia, South Sudan and Kenya are already facing severe food insecurity. Crops that have been able to grow in the past few months are now destroyed which will devastate families and severely worsen access to food.

The IRC is preparing for the coming storm, but we need help from the international community, donors and policy makers to mobilize funds and send support, before this coming storm wreaks more havoc on the region.

East Africa is not going to recover from this quickly. Higher than usual rains are expected to continue through November and December leading to more floods and conditions for disease. Recovery from these weather conditions may take years.

The IRC has been working in countries across East Africa since 1989 providing healthcare, nutrition, economic recovery, women’s protection and empowerment education programming to those affected by conflict and crisis to help them survive, recover and rebuild their lives.

To download images of the flood damage and the IRC’s response, click here.