15 Nov 2023

The Kenya Red Cross Society activates its Early Action Protocol for Riverine Floods

Heavy rains have swept through East Africa in recent weeks, leading to floods in many parts of the region. On 11 November 2023, the Kenya Red Cross Society activated its Early Action Protocol (EAP) for Riverine Floods in response to the escalating impacts and risk to people in affected areas. 

Through this activation, it will receive 192,698 Swiss francs (214,000 US dollars / 200,000 euros) from the Anticipatory Pillar of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' Disaster Response Emergency Fund. Over the coming days, this will be used to implement a series of early actions that will support 150,000 people in the affected areas. 

Early actions 

Kenya has experienced severe floods several times in the recent past and, based on these experiences, the Kenya Red Cross Society identified the following priorities for early actions ahead of floods.  

  • Shelter, with activities including the targeting and registration of affected people, and the distribution of non-food items. 
  • Livelihoods and basic needs, including rapid assessments to establish the feasibility of cash and voucher assistance, and handing out cash grants. 
  • Health, including the activation of mobile health teams and psychosocial support to volunteers. 
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene, including the distribution of water-treatment chemicals and instruction in how to use these, and the deployment of emergency water-treatment plants. 
  • Disaster risk reduction, including early warning messages to communities at risk from the floods, and evacuations. 


In August 2023, the Kenya Meteorological Department forecast above-average seasonal rainfall for the October to December period, driven by El Niño and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole. This began to peak during the last week of October, with many rivers filling rapidly. Through its monitoring activities, the Kenya Red Cross Society observed when the two thresholds (triggers) to activate its EAP were reached: 

  • On 4 November, water levels at Garissa Bridge had surpassed 5 metres, while the levels at Hola (downstream) also reached the threshold for indicating an extreme flood.  
  • A short-range forecast for the week 31 October to 6 November predicted further heavy rainfall over the source region of the Tana River. 

Based on these criteria, the EAP for Riverine Floods was activated. On this occasion, it was not activated by the preapproved trigger, based on the Global Flood Awareness System's models; instead, the activation was exceptionally approved by the IFRC and the validation commitee for EAPs. Further information about this decision is given in the activation report.

Photo © Denis Onyodi / Kenya Red Cross Society. Please note that this is not from the current activation.