Long term solutions needed to prevent floods

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019 09:57 |
Mombasa residents brave the floods. PHOTO/FILE

As leaders burn midnight oil searching  for the elusive national unity, there are equally pressing social and economic concerns that need urgent action.

Efforts to address challenges facing thousands of Kenyans have been hampered by the on-going rains pounding most parts of the country. The resultant floods have caused death and destruction, inflicting severe damage. Livestock have been swept away and crops decimated. 

This perennial humanitarian and food security issue is replayed every drought and rainy season cycle, yet there appears to be no solution in sight. Food security issues must be brought to the forefront of the national conversation and given the priority it deserves alongside the quest for national unity.

Unity begins at the family and community level. Hungry citizens will have no appetite for national unity  efforts if they cannot sustain their livelihoods.Political goodwill in both the National and County governments is required to address the glaring shortcoming of governance that is hurting citizens.

While the vagaries of weather may be blamed for the woes bedevilling farming and pastoralist communities, the State and two-tier governance structure adopted with the advent of devolution have a responsibility to mitigate this litany of woes, misery and heavy losses. 

An inter-ministerial committee was specifically created several years ago to handle drought, flooding and disaster mitigation. One would presume that this committee would by now have come up with a “master plan” to find a long-lasting solution, or at least significantly address the despair.

The Agriculture, Environment, Water, Interior ministries and the Kenya Meteorological Department owe the nation an explanation on  concrete steps taken to address these concerns with ramifications beyond food security. Prospects of starvation cannot be eliminated through politicking, knee-jerk reactions, but through appropriate concerted interventions based on proven research that is aplenty in our national institutions.

Food insecurity not only has a negative impact on the people’s basic human rights, health and nutritional needs, but also has serious implications on their livelihoods as well as the local, national and regional socio-economy.It is a crying shame when bumper harvests go to waste because of bad weather, lack of storage, transport or poor infrastructure, as wananchi in less endowed regions die of hunger. 

This inter-ministerial committee must robustly embrace disaster preparedness and sustainable emergency coordination and management measures, including strict adherence to early warning systems and monitoring to save citizens, their crops and livestock in regions affected by flooding. 

Such an unending situation of food insecurity remains a sharp indictment of authorities’ lack of adequate planning, wilful neglect and woeful failure of policy implementation. It is a terrible scar on the national conscience inflicted by among others the sins of corruption and poor management of natural resources.

It is totally unacceptable for those tasked with ensuring the survival of humans and the ecosystem to shirk their cardinal duty of protecting the people’s basic human rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

Leadership at all levels must learn from past experiences instead of ignoring established norms on how to adapt to and mitigate the negative impacts of the forces of nature on the livelihoods of citizens. 

Urgent action must be taken to permanently spare Kenyans the pain and suffering occasioned by weather-related disasters that lead to food insecurity, with grave repercussions on the economy and social status. 

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