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Hundreds of families are usually displaced by floods in various parts of the country every year. /CFM-FILE.

Fifth Estate

Double Tragedy for Busia County as Leaders Remain Mum

Unlike before when calamities especially flood-related ones always hit Budalangi in Busia County, this time, at least two more sub-counties are affected and leaders, largely elected from the county must stand up and be counted. Unlike before, we should have the Senator, Woman Rep, MPs and the County Assembly Members bringing the matter to national attention through respective assemblies for either declaration as a national emergency or setting up of structures to save the situation. The County leadership must be reactivating their disaster response mechanisms away from the donation of simple items to the communities affected, for its not small as it has always been. Three sub-counties are too big to ignore.

In addition to the COVID-19 effect on the community including the possibility of famine as Uganda has closed its border limiting the movement of foodstuffs into Kenya, an outbreak of cholera added to the already dire humanitarian crisis brought about by the floods.

Busia County is faced with two tragedies following the onset of the rainfall and the increased water levels in Lake Victoria hence backflows that have seen floods in Budalangi, Samia and Matayos sub Counties. The heavy rainfall and the backflow floods have since seen most latrines and toilets full and overflowing, some have collapsed or sunk, houses submerged in water, which has a potential for cholera outbreak in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. When are the leaders calling for a county leadership meeting to address this? Villages like Rukala, Mabinju, Mau Mau, Buyukha, Namasali, Rudacho , sigalame among others are already reeling from the effects of floods and increased waters.

Evidently, the level of preparedness to deal with the disaster in the country has appeared weak if not non-existent, thus the appeal that the national government should move in to deal with any risks associated with such seasons. The local leaders must use the convening of the national assemblies to bring this matter to national attention and call for action, otherwise it will be shameful and negligence on their part if they treat as normal situations that will be dealt with through CDF contributions.

Remember it is also planting season in the region thus emergency interventions including on dealing with livestock diseases and feeding, farming and seed planting, storage facilities, emergency medical supplies, and overall disaster management system and rapid response to risks/outbreaks are required urgently.

Already, Samia and Budalangi sub-counties have recorded the destruction of footbridges and roads in paralyzing the transport sector, floods have devastated villages and landing beaches slums destruction of health facilities, contaminated water sources, increased stagnant water ponds, among other destructions.

The opening of the spill gateways in the Uganda-based dams is seeing increased backflows in the rivers draining into Lake Victoria including Kenya based rivers such as Suo, Nzoia, Yala with anticipated negative impact on human activities in the areas. Already, as result of the backflows and increased water levels, a number of beaches along the lake are submerged while lowlands are experiencing floods that have seriously affected the region.

It is important that plans are shared on how in addition to moving the affected people to dry areas, how the national and county governments plan to assist in opening drainage and water pathways to allow movement of water from homes, provision of temporary moveable toilets, the supply of water treatment chemicals, the supply of livestock medication and quick maturing seeds  to the community coupled with public education to dealing with Coronavirus is going to help the community in coping with the situation.

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Given that water levels increase during the night, a number of families are forced to move out at night, security officers on coronavirus-related curfew patrols must be told not to victimize such families, who are running away from death.  They should assist such people trace safe grounds instead of harassing them.

Bwire works at the Media Council of Kenya

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