, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 22 – The government is being urged to decentralise the country’s industries and social amenities in a bid to reduce rural-urban migration.
This follows the release of a ‘World Disaster Report’ which showed a high increase of informal settlements in urban regions due to migration of people from rural areas.
Kenya Red Cross Society Deputy Secretary General James Kisia said on Tuesday that an increase in the number of slums leads to health problems due to congestion.
“It is important to create industries in the rural areas and making available these other amenities so that farmers can bring their food within a very short time to the market and go back. If we get these infrastructure to allow people to stay in the rural areas will go a long way in reducing the country’s disaster risk,” he said.
“Major causes have to do with the vulnerabilities that are caused by lack of economic empowerment, structural issues like poverty, lack of infrastructure like electricity and water and these have worsened over the years because of continuous urban migration.”
Mr Kisia stressed the need for the government to chip in and aid vulnerable people through the provision of the basic necessities.
He said doing this would result in increased donor confidence in the country.
He explained that currently, most of the relief work is being undertaken to a large extent by donors.
“There is donor fatigue. The donors are not going to give us the funds to give relief on a continuous basis to be aiding the same people over and over. We need to come up with our own home made solutions. We need to look at the context, we need to be pro-active and we have to look at solutions which are sustainable,” he said. “Relief food is not sustainable.”
Mr Kisia said policies need to be put in place to protect people living in areas prone to disasters.
“We have to take a very comprehensive look at what development means. It means social amenities, policies that have to do with land and protection, making sure that people who likely to come into contact with disaster have a measure of protection,” he stated. “This is something that is not happening in Africa.”
Speaking during the same event, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Under Secretary General Mathias Schmale encouraged the government to do more in improving the livelihood of those living in informal settlements.
He said investment in the health sector should be increased to address the health concerns of people living in informal settlements.
He stressed that local authorities need to extend the necessary infrastructure and essential services to residents in such regions in an effort to reduce disaster risk.
“Governments and local authorities have a responsibility to make life bearable in urban settings including slums. Investment into health in developed countries is normally about 17 or 18 percent of government budget whereas in a country like Kenya it is only about six percent,” he said.
He said that good urban governance will ensure that people are empowered and engaged in the development of their urban environment.
“Not talking in terms of absolute amounts but in terms of percentages, surely any government has the possibility to revisit the priorities it makes in terms of where it spends money,” he stated.