A pregnant woman and a child were this week killed at the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya, in a spate of flash floods that have left many homeless. According to Mr. Eddie Gedalof, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees acting representative in Kenya, many structures were washed away and destroyed as the two drowned.
At the coast, the rains continued to wreck havoc as at least five essential bridges were washed away and over 70,000 people have been adversely affected by the rains in Kwale and Kilifi Districts. The situation in Moyale is no better as hundreds of people including the MP, Malla Galgalo were stranded for lack of a road.
In Mandera, four days after the KCSE exams had been completed, the papers were yet to reach the district headquarters due to heavy rains. Parts of Kitui District were significantly affected by the rain as the road between Mwitika and Kitui towns were washed away.
… on and on goes the litany of misfortunes that are affecting people in various parts of Kenya. And yet these parts of Kenya have something more in common.
During the rainy season, like now, these areas are normally flooded and havoc reigns. After the rains, pictures such as the one on the left inundate our TV screens as we put together packets of unga and other relief goods to be sent to the residents of the self same areas – because they are dying of hunger in the worst drought conditions.
The interesting thing is, year in year out we face the same situation. It tells me that something somewhere is wrong. We are failing somewhere.
Is it the meteorological department who fail for failing to give us adequate forecasts that would enable us to plan? Is it the government (and many of you, readers, are nodding at this point) for failing to plan and prepare for such disasters? Or is it perhaps the residents of the towns themselves who know the upcoming situation way before and they have been unable to sort themselves out for the long term? Perhaps the people to blame are the international agencies that are working with those people because they have not led them into sustainability?
The truth is, the people to blame are you and me. We have not been proactive, we have not made the strong will to stand up and be counted on this issue. The reason that the Raila-Michuki-Kibaki-Artur sagas take up most space in our media – even interesting blogs like Kumekucha is because we, you and I the average middle class Kenyan with a voice has not raised it to demand focus on important issues.
But the residents of north eastern, eastern and coast provinces are as culpable if not worse. They have not done much to save their own asses. It is annoying to see an educated person go on TV year in year come on TV and comment on the issue calling upon “the government” to “do something” that is never specified.
The government of course, is to blame. It has not been proactive enough to sort the future of these marginalized areas out. What needs to happen is that the government needs to do a serious business plan for northern Kenya and be strategic about it. The major points of their results should be that they will be prepared for the vagaries of weather and that they will plan accordingly and that they will improve the infrastructure quality so much that bridges could not be so easily washed away.
But then, when all is said and done, it comes back to us – you and me. Politicians act on our will and our will today is for political discussions. It is part of our evolution as a country. Governance and systems are at the forefront of our minds now that we can talk, now that the Special Branch is the NSIS and the Police Force is now the oh-so-friendlier Police Service. The stage in our evolution is that we are focused on democracy and freedoms for our country.
But we will need to to focus on prosperity. I can’t wait for that day. We shall start being proactive rather than reactive on issues affecting real lives.
Meanwhile, say a prayer for the people who will surely die – of drowning, then of malaria, then of drought, then of drowning…