Flood victims decry poor living conditions

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A resident of Mumias Central, in Kakamega County, who was displaced by floods, ponders her family's future at a make-shift camp on April 30, 2020. PHOTO/COURTESY

In Summary

  • Due to the high number of people affected, Lela Assistant Chief Lawrence Owino said they have been forced to place 15 to 20 people per classroom.
  • Kakamega disaster management chairman Musa Chibole said the region is enlisting victims before allocating the necessary assistance.

Flood victims in Nyanza, Western and the South Rift regions are lamenting the deplorable conditions in evacuation centres.

They are now living in fear of exposure to Covid-19 disease due to crowding, with county and national governments on the spot for failing to take care of those in the camps.

Despite a government directive restricting crowding and maintaining a 1.5-meter social distance, the rescue centres tell a different story.

Congestion, poor sanitation, inadequate supply of food and essentials like drugs, mosquito nets, bedding and clothes summarize the state of affairs in the camps.

Concerned about the appalling conditions at the camps, Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi on Friday said the government should declare the floods a national disaster.

DISEASES

The MP said this was the only way the issue will attract the necessary attention from the state, humanitarian agencies and other private actors.

“Already, thousands of people from flood-prone areas – such as Nyando, Nyatike, Usonga, Ugenya and Usigu – have been displaced after their homes were swept away. The displaced people are exposed to serious diseases, including Covid-19, since it is almost impossible to observe social distancing under those conditions. Whatever support we are offering as individual leaders cannot be enough,” he said, observing that once the short-term needs of food and shelter are provided, the country must start looking for long-term solutions.

A spot check established that only a few people wear face masks, which is one of the safety measures stipulated by the Ministry of Health to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Homa Bay and Kakamega county governments are, however, yet to respond to calls by flood victims to be supplied with the safety gear.

“We are calling on the county government to consider providing us with face masks,” said Jane Amondi of Kakoko village in Nyando.

At Lela Secondary School in Kisumu County, Esther Wanda, 75, is lying on a cold classroom floor writhing in pain caused by ulcers.

“All my drugs were swept away by the floods,” she said. Wanda, from Kanyang’wara village, was also experiencing malaria symptoms.

REDUCING CROWDING

The displaced are equally vulnerable to pneumonia, bilharzia, and diarrhoea.

Due to the high number of people affected, Lela Assistant Chief Lawrence Owino said they have been forced to place 15 to 20 people per classroom.

More people have been accommodated at Kobura Girls and Rabuor Primary School while others have been integrated among their relatives and friends on relatively higher grounds.

In Kakamega, at least 55 households displaced in Mumias, Likuyani and Matungu sub-counties are yet to receive humanitarian assistance.

The families have sought refuge in various institutions, including Shibale and Matawa primary schools in Mumias West and PEFA and Joy Baptist churches in Likuyani.

At Shibale Primary School, at least 28 families from Angola and Shibale villages have pitched camp. Five other families from Shitukhumi are camping in a make-shift tent a few metres from their homes, which are submerged.

In Matungu, affected families from Mundere village have moved in with their relatives.

They complained that the government has been slow in responding to their plight. “We are living in appalling conditions, without food and clean drinking water. We fear that we will contract malaria and cholera,” Chibololo said.

HEADCOUNT

At Shitukhumi, five families have squeezed themselves into a tiny tent.

But while the parents were ruing the deplorable conditions and their lost property and houses, children were elated as they swam joyfully in the flood waters.

Kakamega disaster management chairman Musa Chibole said the region is enlisting victims before allocating the necessary assistance.

“We have mapped out the families from Likuyani, Matungu and Mumias West and forwarded the report to the Cabinet for action. The victims need tents, mosquito nets, and relief food. We shall be rolling out the assistance soon,” said Mr Chibole.

Mumias West Deputy County Commissioner Paul Thiong’o said a multiagency team was scrutinising lists to ensure genuine victims get assistance.