Beyond the Deluge: The Unseen Scars of Kenya’s Floods

By Sheryl Christine Adhiambo

“The flood wasn’t just about losing our home, it was about losing a sense of security and normalcy. The fear and uncertainty took a bigger toll on me than anything else.” – Anonymous flood survivor.

Imagine watching all the properties you’ve worked so hard for, being destroyed by floods. And you can do absolutely nothing about it.

This intense rainfall has affected several regions, like the Coast,Nairobi,Central,Western Highlands,Rift Valley,The L.Victoria Basin,Southeastern lowlands and Northeastern Regions.With Nairobi currently experiencing the highest impact. Amnesty international came up with a report of the ongoing floods and its impact, of the  mental health conditions effects of after floods could either be short or long-term conditions depending on how fast one gets help and they’re;

Trauma and loss,watching your possessions, and loved ones being swept away by flood waters could be deeply traumatic to any being and it can manifest as anxiety,depression,post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) and flashbacks.

Hypervigilance and Fear,the fear that came with me experiencing floods is something that I wouldn’t want to experience since it has created a heightened sense of fear in me. I am constantly on edge,anticipating another flooding event while I am travelling.I can’t picture people that have experienced it in their safe spaces (Homes). Because it’s horrific.This hypervigilance can disrupt sleep patterns and make it hard to relax.

Anxiety disorder,this experience leaves a generalised anxiety,where victims have phobias of future floods or water,because everytime they see it they see destruction.

This can be mitigated by;

  • Creating peer support groups, for people affected by flood so that no victim feels the feeling of isolation,loneliness and this will also foster a sense of community.
  • PsychoEducation workshops,organisations and government should offer training to communities on mental effects of floods or any disaster and provide resources,this will empower individuals to seek support from each other before they get help from experts during flooding disaster.
  • Creating safe space,by establishing temporary shelters or community centres,provides the feeling of safety and creates normalcy .Also addressing basic needs where they get access to food and clean water,creates mental well-being for an individual.While at it,also restore routines through activities where they are engaged especially children, this helps to creates mental stability.
  • Long-term planning,this could be done by the government,since it’s government responsibility to ensure the well-being of its people.By
  1. Investing in monitoring systems and communication channels,this allows early warning to be issued to communities that might be severely affected through right channels.With also the help of-
  2. Mapping and Zoning,where the government identifies flood -prone areas and implements zoning restrictions that limit development in high- risk zones.This will discourage building activities in areas likely to be inundated by floods.They could also provide-
  3. Flood insurance,promoting this mitigation measure will enable flood victims to recover their business and government documents from the flood damage with the help of international cooperations.Without feeling like they are starting from scrap.
  4. Address climate change and improve drainage systems in urban areas by upgrading and managing them to ensure efficient flow of water and reduce risks of localised flooding.

If we care so much about the future of this country,we have to admit that children feel the psychological effects of flooding and it can mess them up,lest  I forget the elderly and people with pre-existing mental health conditions floods can exacerbate the existing mental health condition like depression and anxiety.Therefore,everyone has to be in the frontline of ensuring that everyone gets the support they need because we all need each other.In Order to ensure that mental health illness doesn’t become detrimental, to the growth of millions of the people of this country.Thereby hindering the growth of this country.

As we have entered the mental awareness month,what are you doing for people affected by floods?

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