Delay in disaster response shameful

Friday, December 6th, 2019 00:00 |
A house destroyed by a landslide in West Pokot county on November 22. Photo/PD/File

The current heavy rains that have caused deaths from flooding and landslides in parts of the country are yet another sad chapter in our litany of woes.

As of yesterday, more than 132 people had been confirmed dead as a direct result of flooding and landslides, with the latter burying an entire family alive in just one instance.

To its credit, the government has acted by dispatching relief and other emergency supplies to affected families in parts of West Pokot, in particular.

We single out West Pokot because it appears to have borne the brunt of the calamities, and reported more deaths than any one other region.

Unfortunately, the response by the National government was both delayed and rather uncoordinated, raising several critical questions.

For starters, what happened to the usual early disaster warning signals, such as the alert from the weatherman the rains would be above normal?

This alert by the Kenya Meteorological Department was complete, with the advice that people in areas prone to landslides move to safer grounds. Was this done? Apparently not, going by the casualty figures recorded in media in the last few weeks.

It is a serious indictment on the part of the government that whenever this happens, the Kenya Red Cross is normally the first not only to react and rally Kenyans to assist the affected, but also to ferry relief supplies to the areas hit by calamity.

It is a worrying trend that the National government does not appear to learn from past mistakes, and continues to grope in the dark whenever disaster strikes.

It spoke volumes that even after the West Pokot catastrophe, it took the government Spokesman five days to give updates through the media, especially on just what the government had done to intervene.

It goes without saying that in times of emergency, delays of even just hours could make the difference between life and death. 

So, when the government dilly-dallies after citizens have been hit by calamity, it raises extremely serious questions about who has slept on the job as people perish.

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