EMERGENCIES - 26 May 2024

Climate crisis contributes to extreme weather, impacting families from Brazil to Kenya

The heavy rains and floods in southern Brazil, as well as in East Africa, are recent examples of ways the climate crisis is fueling extreme weather, forcing families to flee their homes and destroying people’s livelihoods.

Forty-two children, six young people and their caregivers at the SOS Children’s Villages in Porto Alegre, Brazil, were relocated to a shelter the day before floodwaters overran the village in early May.

Weeks later, the village remains under 1.5 meters (5 feet) of water.

"As with any major disaster, the situation is marked by the collapse of nearly all social assistance structures," said Alberto Guimarães, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages in Brazil. "The shelters are full, but humanitarian aid is arriving from across Brazil, providing relief to those who have lost everything."

Children and families in the community supported by SOS Children’s Villages have been severely affected since a large part of Porto Alegre was flooded and remains underwater.

"As far as possible, we continue to provide support, but the situation is still very critical and given the huge number of people in need of support from the government," explained Mr. Guimarães. "Our work continues with the distribution of food, clothing, and psychosocial support. But there is undoubtedly still a lot to be done and we are currently trying to obtain funding for more structured actions."

Countries across East Africa have also been impacted by recent heavy rains and massive floods.

In Kenya, more than 280,000 people have been displaced, with nearly 400,000 affected overall by severe floods. The floods resulted in the loss of nearly 10,000 livestock and inflicted substantial damage to agricultural lands, infrastructure, businesses, schools, and healthcare facilities.

The recent breach of the Nyando River in Kisumu County submerged Ahero township, where rescue operations have been underway to evacuate stranded residents. Other flooded areas include West Pokot, Nakuru, Kiambu, and Nairobi.

SOS Children’s Villages in Kenya is responding by providing food assistance and cash transfers to hundreds of families. Medical outreach clinics will be established in to address health issues and provide dignity/hygiene kits in Meru, Nairobi, Kisumu, and Eldoret.

The children’s village in Kisumu, in an agreement with local authorities, will set up a temporary safe center for children who are either lost or separated from their families as a result of the floods.

"We are steadfast in our commitment to providing relief and support to the affected communities," said Walter S. Odhiambo, National Director at SOS Children's Villages in Kenya. "Our primary focus remains on ensuring the safety and well-being of children and families during this challenging period."

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