Emergency aid has taken too long to reach West Pokot disaster survivors

On Monday, The Standard pleaded with the government and the general public to come to the aid of the now more than 30,000 people affected by landslides in West Pokot County.

Sadly, however, some victims of the disaster are yet to get any form of humanitarian aid. By yesterday, for instance, no food or other supplies had reached Muino village, which is located 150km from Kapenguria.

It is unfortunate that these people who lost their all, including relatives, have been sleeping in the cold - and the rains are still pounding - and on empty stomachs. That is heart-rending.

Of course, reaching some of the affected areas has been a tall order, as the raging rains have destroyed roads and even bridges.

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On Wednesday, Marich bridge, the only link to Muino village, where 22 people were killed by the landslides, caved in, making it impossible to deliver aid to the villagers.

Yesterday, Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna said the government had already delivered emergency aid to flood victims in Tamkal, Nyarkulian and Parua camps.

However, despite the obvious odds the government and other agencies are facing in their efforts to bail out the desperate families, it is totally unacceptable that almost a week after the tragic incident some villagers are yet to receive any material help, and are still marooned in islands of hunger and suffering.

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Although the government has been working frantically, and has even enlisted the military to help the victims, the efforts have clearly fallen short. Six days is so long a time to go with little or no food, without shelter, blankets and medicine.

The government can and must do better. It should deploy more personnel and resources to ensure the aid reaches those who sorely need it. According to Mr Oguna, the government needs Sh20 million to distribute aid to the victims. The amount cannot hamper this important mission. It is a drop in the ocean, even for a government facing financial difficulties.

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Building of the collapsed bridges should commence to ensure villages are reconnected to the rest of the country to enable the residents to rebuild their lives.

For now the State should hire more helicopters if it does not have enough, to fly aid to the stranded residents. More than 40 lives have been lost in the West Pokot landslides. We should not allow even one more person to die due to lack of relief.

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