The festivities have begun on a rather dump and muddy note with the unrelenting downpour. Heavy rains have been reported in many areas of Kenya and neighbors such as Uganda, Somalia and Ethiopia. The result has been damage to properties, roads, mass displacement and deaths of hundreds who’ve either been trapped under layers of earth or swept away by dangerous water currents.
This natural extreme we’re currently experiencing is the exact opposite of the drought that afflicted Northern parts of Kenya earlier this year, a matter that was passionately addressed by the Senate once images of emaciated residents of Turkana surfaced on the internet. A motion by Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula sort interventions by government to provide urgent aid to the starving families and put in place measures to avert such disasters.
“At the moment we are struggling to deliver food to those who need it now. Tomorrow, we will be unable to deal with floods and the havoc that is going to be caused by huge rains,” said Senate Majority Leader Hon Kipchumba Murkomen on March 19th 2019. What sounded like a prophecy by Senator Murkomen has indeed come to pass. Unlike the drought that the government tried to downplay as fake news, the rains have simply refused to be ignored. Cities have been affected in equal measure as the grassroots. From flooded apartments, bursting sewers and traffic snarl ups, it is evident that urban planning and disaster preparedness is something that still ails us.
Year in year out Kenya has opted for temporary solutions in the wake of disasters as opposed to adopting sustainable long-term solutions. It is not uncommon to hear the government directing Kenyans to vacate their flood-prone homes and relocate to higher ground. This is despite state departments consistently issuing early warnings on worrying weather patterns. Unfortunately, the government seems to be caught off-guard on most occasions.
The government’s inaction and massive looting of public finances have led us to this moment where the implications are far reaching. Hundreds of lives have been lost in a span of two months, property has been destroyed not forgetting the negative socio-economic impact this yields.
The question then is, what would it take to start valuing Kenyans’ lives? Believing that the handshake and the recently launched BBI report has yielded inclusion is rather presumptuous if there are hundreds of thousands of Kenyans still displaced every year. Inclusion and equity should translate to all Kenyans living a decent and dignified life.
We need to go beyond the naming and shaming charade and start having convictions while we reclaim stolen Kenyan money. The cost of corruption has proven to be fatal and all the arms of government should work in harmony to put a stop to it.
As far as Parliament is concerned, our legislators have to display thoroughness in its oversight role. The caliber of people approved to work for state departments determines the success and failure of a sector. We’ve seen individuals whose integrity has been put to question still secure top government positions only for them to enable looting of public funds. Just like the natural calamities, we’ve been accustomed to a reactive rather than proactive approach when it comes to vetting appointees. It beats logic to wait until a scandal emerges or deaths have occurred to then put measures in place to prevent them.
To echo the words of Senator Abshiro Halake while addressing the drought crisis, “This is not a food or drought crisis but a leadership crisis. In fact, I think the leadership crisis borders on crimes against humanity.”
Okaying the deaths of Kenyans borders on crimes against humanity.