Kenya

Set up committee to stem rain disaster

It is now quite clear that this is a national disaster. The unseasonable and premature rains have struck in virtually every part of the country, including the arid and semi-arid north of the country, and they are causing untold havoc. The roads are not only impassable, in some places there have arisen lakes where there was not a rivulet. Floods have struck not just in the Nyando plains in Nyanza, where they wreak havoc every year, but even at the Coast, too.

When the rains began and seemed to go on and on, we warned here that the maize crop was in danger for it is at this time that farmers in most parts of the Rift Valley and Western provinces harvest their maize. As we reported onTuesday, 65 per cent of the crop is actually in danger.

What this means is that there is going to be a huge shortfall in food because maize is Kenya's staple food. The tragedy of it all is that it is not long ago that Kenyans were eating relief food because the rains had failed. Now, Kenyans will be in need of this food because of excessive rain.

Over in Kisumu District, the provincial administration is preparing to evacuate hundreds of people who were draught unawares by the Kano floods. Needless to say, floods sweep away dwellings and not only render people homeless, but also impoverish them.

As we argued here recently, the floods in northern Kenya mean that diseases could run rampant and that calls for medicines and extra surveillance to ensure that should a disease break out, it does not spread far. That there are floods in many parts of the country points to the enormity of the problem.

With roads rendered impassable, food cannot reach the victims or whole parts of the country that rely on neighbouring districts for their vegetables, maize, fish or beef and mutton. Such food has to be airlifted and this means that it is the Government that acts for only it can do this effectively.

That is why we are of the view that the rains currently pounding almost all parts of the country constitute a national disaster. That, we believe, is reason enough for the Government to form a national committee to handle the disaster.

This committee should be [...] handled the relief food, but without the bureaucracy and official thievery. It has to deal with settlement, food, medicines and the farmers' needs after the rains.

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