The devastating landslide in West Pokot has once again demonstrated that Mother Nature is growing more malevolent as climate change continues to bare its fangs.
By yesterday, the death toll was over 40, making the tragedy the worst in the country in recent times. Sixteen people were being treated at Kapenguria County Hospital.
Thousands of people were rendered homeless after their structures were knocked to the ground by the gushing rivers of sludge, boulders and uprooted trees. Their lives have been turned upside down.
The rains have cut off roads and made air rescue a daunting task. Under the circumstances, government’s rescue efforts are commendable. However, they could have been better.
Importantly, the disaster has exposed, once again, our country’s poor preparedness. Following the weatherman’s warning about imminent floods and landslides, efforts should have been made to evacuate those living in treacherous areas ahead of the rains.
The government should learn from the West Pokot tragedy and quickly order those living in areas that Met department has warned could be hit by landslides out before tragedy strikes.
But what is most worrying about the West Pokot tragedy is that it has failed to elicit the kind of emotion and anger that similar disasters do. During the Westgate attack, Kenyans came out in their numbers to help, including by feeding the rescuers.
Religious groups and corporates make monetary and material donations to support those affected by national disasters. But curiously, more than 48 hours after news about the landslide disaster broke, their voices have been hushed. There have been no pledges for help from the two, or even from the general public.
The politicians are still preoccupied with the Building Bridges Initiative instead of this horrific tragedy. Twitteratis, who make a lot of noise about such incidents and even mobilise people to offer support, are not chirping enough about it.
Is West Pokot too far to attract the attention of the rest of the country, or have Kenyans suffered from donor fatigue? Would the reaction be the same had the tragedy struck the heart of the city?
Whatever the case, Kenyans should know that the thousands of the landslide victims need food, blankets, clean water and shelter urgently. Kenyans have in the past united to help disaster victims. They should do the same for West Pokot.
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