NAIROBI, Kenya Sept 11- A fundraiser in aid of residents of Faza Island in Lamu whose houses were gutted in a fire over the weekend has raised nearly Sh65 million.
The event held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) on Friday was presided over by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga who urged Kenyans to always be ready to support those who are befallen by calamities.
“We are all aware of the gravity of the tragedy that occurred in the area but it is upon us to rectify the things that go wrong around us; we must all be ready to assist our brothers because no one will come from outside to help except for us,” said the President.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga announced that the government, in conjunction with the Kenya Red Cross, had dispatched architects, town planners and quantity surveyors to the village to re-plan and give it a new life with modern housing.
“The fire that burned this village was the fourth one in the recent period. This history is what has forced the government to intervene and rehabilitate the Island`s housing and change its face forever. There is need to re-design the village and use modern roofing material instead of Makuti,” said the PM.
He added that the island would also benefit from improved infrastructure. "The Government’s decision to construct a second port in Lamu will bring immense benefits and boost the economy of the area."
The PM said each house "passed the baton of fire to the next" because of how they were constructed and the lack of space between them.
He asked the dwellers to co-operate fully with the government officers sent to redesign the village and give it a new look, with modern, iron roofing.
Last weekend’s fire razed about 450 homes on the island leaving at least 2,300 people homeless, according to governments and Red Cross officials on the ground.
Mr Odinga said the government has dispatched food to the region, including 900 bags of rice, 250 bags of maize, over 800 blankets, mosquito nets and bars of soap.
Mombasa businessman Ali Punjabi gave his personal donation of Sh6 million.
But the delivery has been slow because of changing tides in the ocean.
Meanwhile, the United Nations is to help Kenya prepare to mitigate the impact of potentially lethal torrential rains anticipated for the last three months of the year due to the El Niño weather pattern.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Ministry of State for Special Programmes will co-chair a consultative workshop on Tuesday next week to draw up contingency plans in the face of El Niño.
Previous experiences of El Niño in 1998 resulted in the loss of lives and massive damage to property and infrastructure.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga however said there is no need to prepare even though the El Nino will not be as severe as last experienced in 1998.
He says the government is doing everything possible to ensure the rains do not cause damage this time round.
“Relevant ministries have put in place measure to ensure essential drugs, food security and water will be in supply where ever there is need regardless of the rains ministries like education must also prepare for distribution of exam papers juts in case the rains continue into November,” he said.