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Floods pose double burden

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The saying “when it rains, it pours” succinctly captures the current sorry situation in western Kenya as floods wreak havoc once again. It is a double burden for the people in the flood-prone Budalang’i Constituency in Busia County, Nyando in Kisumu and Ugenya and elsewhere in Siaya adjacent to River Nzoia.

Deaths have occurred and homes swept away. The people are in dire need of food, water, mosquito nets and medicines.
Bridges have been washed away and homes, farms, trading centres and schools swamped in a stark reminder that the perennial problem is far from over. And the floods came at a time when the country is struggling to stem the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The floods will make it even more difficult to maintain that kind of hygiene that is essential in keeping the Covid-19 scourge at bay. Maintaining social distance has been confirmed as a key health safety guideline.

But as the people abandon their flooded homes and move to higher ground, crowding could fuel the spread of the deadly virus. It also becomes difficult for the affected to maintain high levels of hygiene. The authorities are now grappling with ensuring social distancing, sanitation and other health safety measures for the more than 1,000 displaced families.

Health officers, working with the local administration, including village elders and chiefs, now have to do a lot of work to stem the twin grave threat.

This calls for substantive support from the national and county governments and relief organisations to save lives. And when it is finally all over, there will be a huge need for reconstruction to restore the normal lives of the affected people.