Haro calls for equal disaster response across regions

 Mandera South MP, Abdul Haro. [Screen grab]

 Mandera South MP, Abdul Haro, has urged the government to act swiftly and address a perceived inequality in disaster response.

 Haro argues the government’s response is often more prompt and effective when disasters occur in ‘politically favourable’ regions such as Rift Valley, Central and Nairobi.

Despite the displacement of people and loss of life and property in the capital and other parts of the country due to the ongoing torrential rains, he says, the government’s response has been more timely than it was in pastoralist counties during the heavy rains of December to January.

“We experienced an El-Nino disaster that severed the main road artery to that region for nearly four weeks. The floods also overwhelmed the few airstrips we had. There were no flights to bring support to the people, and no trucks to deliver supplies to the people of the region,” said Haro.

On May 3, the government announced an indefinite closure of schools to prioritise the safety of school children.

However, Haro points out that last year’s KCPE and KCSE candidates in his area did not benefit from such directives and were forced to sit their exams in flooded centres.

Haro says the plight of vulnerable members of society, including those with disabilities and expectant women are sometimes unable to comply with government mitigation orders such as evacuation and relocation decrees.

The MP criticises the government for its reluctance to declare flood situations as national emergencies, which could unlock much-needed aid.

“During the last El-Nino disaster, which rendered some North Eastern areas unreachable, we couldn’t have airdrops of supplies due to lack of capacity. The World Food Programme (WFP) was the only institution capable of doing that work, but they told us that the government has to declare a national disaster for them to activate their equipment,” he explained.

He also identifies the absence of government representatives and machinery in times of crisis as contributing to the region’s feeling of being marginalised.

At the same time, Haro dismisses the pastoralist community parliamentary caucus as an ineffective group that fails to realise its significant power, particularly when voting on crucial issues like the Equalisation Fund.

“That inequality manifests itself between regions, counties, or even within counties like in Nairobi. The response you have seen in Mathare, Mukuru, and what is happening in Runda are completely different,” he says.