Kenya

Alleviate flood victims' plight

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The gravity of the consequences of the unusually heavy rains pounding northern Kenya is yet to be known. Indeed, it will be some time before the damage and losses caused by the raging floods are assessed. However, the latest reports put the numser of human deaths at more than a dozen. Thousands of livestock - the lifeline of the people in the north - have drowned. Whole villages have been swept away and several hundred people forced to leave their homes.

The flooding has also resulted in an upsurge in the incidence of diseases and a corresponding demand for medicines. There is also a marked lack of food not just because of the floods, but also because most of the food consumed in this arid and semi-arid are parts of the country. The rains have left roads impassable, effectively cutting off the area from the rest of Kenya.

It is precisely because of these conditions that we have editorialised on the matter of the rains in northern Kenya, calling on the Government to declare it a disaster area and quickly mobilise resources and personnel so that food and medicines can be flown there.

We are pleased to note that Government [...] to deal with the situation and that several non-governmental organisations have also chipped in to assist the sick and the hungry with not only medicine and food, but clothes and bedding for the displaced who could not salvage anything from their submerged homes.

It is in this same spirit that we welcome the Sh31.5 million contribution to this effort from the British Government to fund the emergency relief operations in North Eastern Province. This echoes a British TV commercial that says, every little helps. The Sh31.5 million, taken together with what the Government and NGOs have contributed, means there just may be enough to give hope and succour to Kenyans in need.

But as we have argued since the advent of the El Nino phenomenon, Kenya needs a mechanism for monitoring and responding to such natural disasters. As things stand now, most of the time, Kenyans are caught unawares when disasters strike and nobody seems quite sure what to do.

That must change and the time to begin is now.

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