By: Ahmed Hassan
As Kenya grapples with the ferocity of an El Niño not witnessed since 1997, the northern counties find themselves submerged not only in floodwaters but in the painful realization of abandonment. Stranded without tarmac roads since pre-independence, this neglected region is now grappling with the catastrophic aftermath of a government seemingly indifferent to its plight.
Six decades after gaining independence, the people of northern Kenya are not only battling nature’s fury but also the man-made disaster of neglect. The collapse of the Garissa Bridge, the solitary lifeline connecting the north to the rest of the country, stands as a glaring testament to the lack of investment in basic infrastructure. Is northern Kenya not an integral part of this nation, deserving of the same attention and care as its southern counterparts?
In Mandera County, a cruel paradox unfolds as electricity and telephone networks remain paralyzed. The delivery of fuel, a basic necessity, has become a logistical nightmare, leaving entire communities in darkness and isolation. The collapse of essential services is not just a consequence of the rains but a symptom of a deeper problem—a government that has overlooked the fundamental needs of its citizens.
As the floods recede, the devastation inflicted upon livelihoods becomes painfully clear. Agriculture, the backbone of these communities, lies in ruins as crops drown and livestock struggle for survival. The backbone of the economy in the northern counties, comprised largely of livestock and agriculture, now faces an existential threat.
Despite contributing a substantial amount to the country’s revenue, the people of northern Kenya continue to be denied access to basic amenities due to the lack of tarmac roads. The inequality is not just an oversight; it’s a betrayal of the promise of independence. As prices of essentials skyrocket, the economic backbone of the region fractures, pushing families to the brink of despair.
It is a stark reality that in the 21st century, citizens in northern Kenya are denied the very infrastructure that would uplift them from poverty and empower them to contribute even more significantly to the nation’s prosperity. The storm may have subsided, but the scars of neglect run deep.
The time for change is now. Northern Kenya is not a distant outpost; it is an integral part of the nation’s tapestry. The people demand more than sympathy; they demand recognition, investment, and a commitment to a future where no Kenyan feels like a second-class citizen in their own country. The article is not just a critique of a natural disaster but a rallying call for justice, equity, and a united Kenya that stands tall together, regardless of geography.
Ahmed Mohamed is a regular columnist on the media who critics the balance of power through the lense of socio-economic disparities.