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WARDERE: The ongoing El-nino phenomenon has exposed our state of unpreparedness when disaster strikes



By: Wardere Hassan

The ongoing rain witnessed in various parts of the country is coming at a time when some parts, mainly the Arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs), is reeling from a devastating andnsevere drought and famine period.

Northern Kenya, to be specific, had faced a seasonal drought, which caused loss of lives and livestock. The State Department of Livestock Production stated that the prolonged dry spell witnessed in the country over the last five seasons caused approximately Sh 40 billion in losses. It added that over 2.6 million head of cattle died at the height of drought.

Then came the rain, blessed as it is, thanks to the Almighty Allah.

However, after 50-plus years of independence, topped up by over 10 years of devolution, the region is still faced with wanton quagmire. The rainfall has proved to many that we are still in the medieval ages; with less to showcase in terms of progress. A good example is the impassable roads, which links the country’s capital city to the lateral end of Mandera County. The roads have seen vehicles trapped in the mud and washed off at some places. Some of the vehicles are loaded with perishable goods, and passenger buses unable to ply thus stagnating essential services and provision of goods such as food for human consumption.

Ambulances that would have ferried the sick have also been affected by the same, causing inability for timely medical intervention.

Some counties, such as Wajir and Mandera, have witnessed flash floods that saw villages submerged: displacement of people, loss of lives and death of livestock, the little that survived the prolonged period of drought. Many have lost their properties such as houses, making them seek shelter in schools and open areas—call it a case of internal displacement in a third-world country. A good case is Diif, Dadajabula and Elwak in Wajir and Mandera counties respectively.

An estimated 13,000 households are reportedly displaced for the past week with rains getting more intense.

With the ongoing national examinations amid the sorry state of the roads, exam officials and students have seen longer days where papers are brought late and examination materials delivered by air transport thus hindering the smooth running of the operation.

I wish to thank non-governmental organizations such as the Red Cross, which has provided palliative aid to the affected area, but a lot needs to be done. The buck stops at both the national and the county governments for not being proactive, or not acting up to speed, especially in disaster management programs. Laxity as it may be the norm, in emergency preparedness, with a lack of priority to essential services for the citizens, we end up in regrets time and again.

I wish to ask both the national and the county governments to intervene in the flash floods by putting amicable measures in place for potential disaster looms. Public health is at risk, and this is a grave concern. I hope this will be attended to as soon as possible.

Wardere Hassan works in the humanitarian sector and a politician.


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