Kenya

Response to crises is slow

The Government recently declared the flooding in the Coast Province
a national disaster. The usually slow government machinery quickly
went into first gear. Reconstruction of damaged infrastracture has
already begun. Any right-thinking Kenyan instantly smells a rat. Why
the quick action all of a sudden, considering the slow reaction to the
recent unexplained death raids on the residents of the same province?
Perhaps the Government's definition of a crisis does not include the
slaughter of its citizenry.

Further examples highlight the hypocritical and selective approach towards
national crises and disasters.

Flooding is a common occurrence in the Kano plains in Kisumu District, a
region that is potentially the largest source of rice in Africa.

Numerous pleas by residents have fallen on deaf ears. Not only can the water
be harnessed for irrigation, tourism, energy and transport, but in so doing its
destructive nature is controlled. The misery associated with the death and
destruction of lives, crops and property by these waters need not be recounted
here.

The recent cholera outbreak in Nyanza Province is another case in point.
Scores of lives have been lost in this tragedy. The response by the Government
to it has been slow. The airlifting of drugs and medical drips will not do. A
profound and quick solution is needed. Cholera is a water-borne disease.

Lake Victoria is the main water source in Nyanza yet it does not fully benefit
the people in this region. The exploitation of Lake Victoria as a water source
needs to be immediately done.

It is also necessary to address the water hyacinth issue, too. This is definitely
an ecological disaster. Aliens have invaded Lake Victoria.

The Government is yet to declare this a national disaster. Uganda, on the other
hand, has gone full throttle in dealing with the crisis. Various methods of
control have been suggested and some have been put into practice.

Why should the Government apply double standards in its response to crises?

Tom Onyango, Nairobi.

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