May 15, 2024 | Disaster Response

Kenya floods displace families

Response efforts underway to support sponsored individuals and families

By Kati Burns Mallows

Story update, May 15, 2024
Unbound has sent more than $100,000 from the Critical Needs Fund to assist families impacted by flooding in Kenya.

Unbound received a request for recovery assistance from the organization’s Nairobi program on May 8 and sent the grant, totaling $101,211, on the same day, according to Unbound’s chief international program officer, Dan Pearson.

The funding will provide immediate assistance to 1,174 sponsored individuals and their families impacted by the flooding. The families are largely from Juja and Juja Farm, rural and semi-rural communities north of Nairobi.

Unbound Regional Project Director Becky Findley said the crisis goes beyond flooded homes, especially in the Nairobi program's Juja Farm area. Latrines are collapsing due to soaked soil, while families who earn their living through farming have lost all their crops. Roads have been washed away, making any economic activity next to impossible, and standing water is introducing a new threat of diseases such as typhoid, malaria and cholera.

"With these rains lasting close to a month now, that means families who have been living on the margins have been making difficult decisions at meal times," Findley said.

Pearson said Unbound is thankful to be able to respond so quickly to provide critical assistance to so many families in need.

“It’s the team here at headquarters and the processes that we have in place, both technological and operational, along with the experience of, and trust we have in, the teams in Kenya — all of that comes together in a way that allows Unbound to get help to families right when they need it most,” Pearson said.

As flooding continues throughout Kenya, Pearson expects Unbound will receive further requests for assistance from the organization’s other projects within the country.

Thus far since March, torrential rains and flooding have displaced more than 235,000 people throughout Kenya. Kenya’s President William Ruto declared Friday, May 10, as a public holiday to mourn the 238 lives lost to the floods.

Donate to the Critical Needs Fund now to make a direct impact on the lives of families experiencing hardship due to the flooding in Kenya.


Homes have been flooded and crops and roadways destroyed in the Juja Farm area (pictured above) of Unbound's Nairobi program.

In Unbound's Meru program, the homes of many sponsored individuals and their families were destroyed by the floodwaters, especially those homes made of mud (such as the one pictured above). Unbound Meru staff have requested assistance to help construct new homes and provide food to impacted families.

Bridges and roadways destroyed by the floodwaters in Kenya have immobilized communities and stalled economic activity. Above, a footbridge in Unbound's Meru program was overtaken by the rising river.

Originally posted May 3, 2024
Families in Unbound’s programs throughout Kenya have been battling the impact of torrential rains and deadly flooding to their homes and communities since March.

More than 1,700 sponsored individuals and their families from programs in Kisumu, Meru and Nairobi have been impacted with the loss of their basic essential belongings or their homes. Many have also lost their livelihoods, including crops and livestock. At the time of this writing, no deaths within the Unbound community had been reported.

Overall in Kenya, flooding has displaced more than 190,000 people, claimed the lives of more than 200, and damaged roads and other transport infrastructure, according to a report from AP News.

A government spokesperson on April 30 said the worst impacts of the flooding are in Nairobi, which accounts for 77% of all displacements. In particular, low-income neighborhoods in Nairobi have felt the flood impacts severely due to less solid structures, congestion and poor sanitation infrastructure, leaving many homeless and creating potential public health risks. Eighty-two percent of Unbound families impacted by flooding in Kenya are a part of Unbound’s Nairobi program.

According to reports, the government has ordered those living in landslide-prone areas and flood plains — including those living in informal settlements close to rivers and streams — to evacuate for safer ground.


Unbound sponsored elder Wambui (pictured third from left), 77, stands outside her flooded home in Nairobi with some members of her family and others from the Unbound community, discussing the situation.

Providing necessary resources in times of natural disaster

Kenya’s devasting rains are a result of a mix of factors, including the country’s seasonal weather patterns, climate change and natural weather phenomena, according to AP News.

According to the Kenya Meteorological Department, the March to May periods in the country are traditionally considered the “long rains” part of the season. However, in February, the department predicted above-average rainfall throughout Kenya this year, warning of occasional storms, flash floods, landslides, mudslides and other impacts.

The department forecasted worsening weather conditions over the rest of April, including potential after effects from Cyclone Hidaya that made landfall on the coast of Tanzania, Kenya’s southern neighbor, on May 4.

In Juja Farm, part of Unbound Nairobi, more than 200 Unbound families found their access to other areas of the city cut off when the floodwaters from two major rivers overtook and submerged the main bridge that connects the communities. In Kayole, another part of Unbound Nairobi, one family lost their livestock to the floods and had to be rescued from the roof of their home. Other families throughout Unbound in Kenya have either been displaced from their homes or evacuated out of an abundance of caution.

Natural disasters and other unexpected setbacks take a disproportionate toll on people living in poverty. That’s why Unbound’s Critical Needs Fund provides essential support to sponsored members and their families during crises.

According to Unbound Vice President of International Programs Melissa Velazquez, the Critical Needs Fund serves as an important safety net that Unbound works to build and distribute in times of urgent and significant need.

“It’s a bit like an insurance policy that a sponsored family could not acquire on their own but can be critical to ensuring not just survival during disaster, but also preventing families from falling into crippling debt, derailing their goals,” Velazquez said. “Unbound is grateful to have this resource ready when families need it.”

Unbound Kenya staff are actively working to connect with families to assess the impact of the flooding on their lives and to prepare information on the level of support needed.

Sponsored child Anita, 10, stands outside the flooded home she shares with her mother and sister in Nairobi.

A view from the flooded home of 17-year-old sponsored youth Ian and his other four family members in Nairobi. Ian’s mother is a small-scale farmer who raises vegetables to sell at the local market and livestock, while his father is a painter. The family often loved having guests over to their home.

What you can do to help Unbound families in Kenya

  • • Make sure your contact information is current. In times of natural disaster, Unbound notifies sponsors personally if we learn that their sponsored friends have been injured or otherwise seriously impacted, so keeping your information updated is important.

  • • Pray. The Unbound community holds all those affected and those assisting with relief efforts in our thoughts and prayers.

  • Donate to the Critical Needs Fund. The fund assists families in the aftermath of events such as floods, severe storms, earthquakes and fires.

Regional Reporter Nickson Ateku and Unbound Kenya staff contributed information and photos for this story.