By Josphat Thiong’o
Legislators from the North Eastern region have asked the government to declare El Nino rains a national disaster even as they told off Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua over remarks on emergency funds.
They appealed to the international community to come to their aid to ease the humanitarian crisis in region.
The MPs drawn from Mandera, Garissa, Wajir and Tana River counties said that more than 2 million families were at risk of being displaced by the floods and demanded that the national government plays a bigger role in mitigating effects of the El Nino rains.
The floods have so far claimed 52 lives, displaced over 80,000 families, and destroyed hundreds of acres of farmland.
Led by Eldas MP Adan Keynan, the leaders complained that the county governments only received 15 per cent of the sharable national revenue hence the national government which got the lion share should bear more responsibility in dealing with the humanitarian crisis.
“The situation in our region is one that calls for immediate attention and if nothing is done the women and children who are most affected will starve,” said Keynan.
“We need the national government to declare the rains a national disaster. What we have been seeing is lip service from government but we need to see action,” he added.
Dadaab MP Farah Maalim took issue with Gachagua’s remarks on El Nino funds saying that his utterances were only making matters worse.
On Tuesday, the DP claimed that the government had dispersed Sh10 billion to counties hard hit by El Nino rains only to turn around on Wednesday and instruct counties to use the funds at their disposal to mitigate effects of the floods.
“The President needs to rein in on his Deputy because the way he is talking is not befitting to his office,” said Maalim.
“The DP should move with speed because the floods are a litmus test for the Kenya Kwanza administration which should be mindful and send relief aid across all the counties affected by the El Nino rains,” he added.
Mandera North MP Bashir Sheikh challenged the DP to tour the region and appreciate the severity of the situation.
He called on the international community to help alleviate the suffering of the people.
“We will no longer clap for the government. People are dying. We appeal to the international community through the United Nations and the World Food Programme to come to our rescue,” said Bashir.
Mandera West MP Bura Adow put contractors from the Kenya National Highway Authority on notice claiming that their shoddy works had led to the collapse of a critical bridge which has now rendered the region inaccessible.
The legislators also demanded that the national government deploys emergency relief including food, water and medical aid.
They called for evacuation of displaced families, provision of temporary shelter and rehabilitation of infrastructure by the government.
They appealed to the government to put in place public health measures to prevent water borne diseases and implement community support initiatives and resettlement.
Delays in mitigating the effects of the heavy rains have led to blame game between the national and county governments. At the crux of the matter is the Sh10 billion allocated for disaster management.
Source: The Standard