Thursday, April 25, 2013

Floods highlight disaster management challenges in Kenya

IRIN: Assistance to thousands of flood-affected families in Kenya has been curtailed by lack of a national disaster management body, poor coordination, poor rural infrastructure and other challenges.  At least 89,515 Kenyans had been displaced by floods, according to a recent Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) report. Sixty-two people were killed and many others were injured. The floods, caused by heavy rains in mid-March and early April, have affected areas in the central, eastern, northeastern, Rift Valley and western regions, and in Nairobi, the capital.

Disaster response in Kenya is often inadequate and characterized by a failure to act on early warnings, according to Mohamed Sheikh Nur, an aid agency consultant.  "What the government is doing now in the name of disaster response is neither effective nor adequate. I am yet to see a special kitty [fund] set [aside] to help the disabled, pregnant women, children and the sick. The [bulk of what] they are doing is only focused on distribution of food.”

According to Muhammed*, an HIV-positive father of six, more attention should be paid to vulnerable groups, such as those living with HIV.  "We need special care. Some of us have developed complications for failing to take [anti-retroviral] drugs. Some of us lost their drugs, some contracted waterborne diseases,” he told IRIN, from the Madogo area of the Tana River Delta region.

"Cases of pregnant women with delivery complications are prevalent. We have lost three mothers who required caesarean operations. They died because they could not reach Isiolo Town, where the service is available. The road remains cut off," Abdi Sora, an Isiolo County representative, told IRIN...

Kenya's Tana River flooded in 1998, US military photo

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