Northern Kenya legislators raise concern over unequal El Nio aid distribution

Members of the public try to save a vehicle from being washed away in a flash flood at a Mandera road in 2018. [File, Standard]

Members of Parliament from Northern Kenya have raised concerns over discrimination by the national government in addressing the effects of El Niño rains which have resulted in 15 people losing their lives.

The legislators have called on Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua to ensure that the region which has been heavily affected by the heavy rains is able to get the resources that will cushion the area residents during the rains.

Addressing a press conference at Wilson Airport while flagging off 24 tonnes of consignment of food stuffs and drugs destined for six sub-counties of Wajir County, the legislators, led by Eldas MP Adan Keynan said the expected help from the national government is neither clear nor well thought out.

“We want the national government to come out clear on the help that is going to be accorded our people who need food, medicine and other necessities so far our people have not gotten the help that they deserve at a time that they need it most,” said Keynan.

Wajir Senator Sheikh Abbass said that it was worrying that the national government is yet to announce any intervention measures to assist citizens affected by El Nino floods in 19 Counties for the third week now calling for urgent intervention.

Abbass said the residents of North Eastern Counties were wondering whether they were second-class citizens compared to areas like in Mombasa County where the Deputy President and his team are already assisting the County government of Mombasa through various intervention measures.

The Wajir Senator decried laxity on the part of the National government considering the magnitude of the problem with the response not matching even as he called for a more concerted effort to avoid further catastrophe. 

“Parliament has allocated money to deal with emergencies that have affected our country, especially in the Northern Kenya counties of Garissa, Wajir and Mandera but we are seeing nothing on the ground as our people perish,” said Farah.

Wajir West MP Yusuf Farah said that the road leading to the Northern of part of the country has been washed away, by ravaging floods at Modogashe; blocking any humanitarian assistance heading to Wajir and Mandera Counties.

Farah further appealed to Kenya National Highway Authority to take its responsibility seriously and fix the road within the shortest time possible to enable the transportation of relief goods through the road because airlifting all goods will not be practically possible.

“Even if we airlifted all relief goods to Wajir county headquarters, they will need to be airlifted the same to areas that are far-fetched, which as of now has been cut off or marooned by the floods,” said Farah.

The Wajir West MP appealed to President William Ruto to apologize to Kenyans for misleading the country that there will be no El Nino rains as predicted by scientists only for areas that rarely have rains to experience floods with devastating consequences.

“The reality has now dawned on us, the weathermen have been vindicated by God, El Nino rains are now here with us, we must take this issue seriously so that our people do not suffer more harm,” said Farah.

The MP asked the Deputy President not be skewed in the distribution of emergency resources saying there was some level of bias during the handling of the drought situation asking him not to concentrate emergency resources only in the Central region but also other parts of the country.

“We saw the Deputy President taking all relief donations to Central region, he left out Northern Kenya, which was severely affected during drought and famine and we can see now exactly that is what is happening today,” said Farah.

Tarbaj MP Hussein Bare said despite parliament allocating funds to tackle emergencies such El Nino rains, those in the national government charged with the responsibilities were sleeping on their job and left the tasks to the Kenya Red Cross Society and the County government of Wajir.

He appealed to President William Ruto to visit the region and appreciate the level of catastrophe is unfolding in the area because some Cabinet Secretaries were embroiled in politics at the expense of serving Kenyans.

Wajir East Mohamed Daudi appealed to the Ministry of East African Community and Special Programs which is responsible for swinging to action to salvage the situation asking the cabinet secretary responsible for visiting the affected areas to assess the situation.

“We are demanding that the minister and her team visit with Wajir County and other parts of this country that have been affected because we want her to tell the President what is happening on the ground,” said Daudi.

Wajir Women representative Fatuma Jehow asked the Ministry of Transport to open the roads to facilitate the movements of all trucks and vehicles that have in the past four weeks stuck between Modogashe and Wajir County.

Jehow called on the business community to extend their hand and help their people just like Bluebird aviation who have offered support by airlifting the goods to Wajir county.

The County MP said that the floods have cut off communication with a lack of electricity due to a power blackout which will affect communication with their people.