The area has been suffering a year of severe drought followed by torrential rains and massive flooding that extended across Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Somalia. The flooding that preceding the dam failure is reported to have affected nearly a million people – 170 of them in Kenya.
Authorities estimate that some 18 million gallons of water rushed through a path 1,600 feet wide, and totally immersing homes over a radius of more than a mile. At least 48 people, almost half of them young children, have reportedly died as a direct result of the ensuing flood. An estimated 200,000 people became homeless. The failure of the Patel dam and other regional flooding this year have destroyed thousands of acres of crops, displaced about 300,000 people, and killed nearly 20,000 farm animals.
As they are so often, Compassion International was on hand to respond provide relief for victims of the break. In this case, however, Compassion itself was a victim of the devastation in at least three ways.
- More than 40 beneficiaries of Compassion programs were among the affected.
- “Compassion’s local church partner and Child Development Center (CDC) sustained damage to their buildings. Four temporary classrooms were mostly destroyed and play equipment was carried away. Along with rebuilding and repair, school supplies will have to be replaced.”
- Five Compassion ‘caregivers’ and a local Compassion board member were among those who died.
True to its commitment and calling, Compassion staff participated in search and rescue efforts before transitioning into identifying and administering to injuries and finding shelter for those who needed it.
Unable to use their own facilities because of the damage rendered, Compassion and other groups secured basic supplies for those victims who had taken shelter in a local school that had been outside the affected area.
Despite its own personal losses and pain, Compassion is continuing to create long-term relief to help the victims, including 26 families already under their direct care.
- Mission Network News, Kenya dam break kills dozens
- The New York Times, Kenya Dam Break Wipes Out Villages, Killing Dozens
- Flood List, Kenya- Dozens Killed After Dam Break in Nakuru County
- ABC News, At least 44 killed as dam bursts in Kenya, officials say
- Newsy, Dozens Are Dead After A Dam Burst In Kenya
- Wikipedia, Patel Dam failure
- By Oxfam East Africa (Wading through flood waters) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons