Without a doubt, Kenya is in the midst of a serious health crisis that needs a huge cost outlay and delicate strategising. Coronavirus will certainly test our healthcare system in a way only HIV/Aids did over the last three decades.
So far, the country has fared well, given the shocking numbers being reported in countries like the US, Italy and Spain where deaths are in the tens of thousands.
Be that as it may, that does not recuse the country from responding to other disasters that have been unfolding right before our eyes and exerting such a heavy toll on families and fortunes.
The first is the desert locust invasion in parts of the country. There is evidence that despite initial investment in responding to the first wave of swarms, the fight is cooling off due to poor supply of equipment and chemicals. Part of this is due to the merited attention the coronavirus pandemic has received from policy makers.
But just when we thought the disaster list was getting exhausted, parts of the country have been hard hit by flooding, which will probably exacerbate the already precarious situation. Dozens of deaths have been reported in Western Kenya and parts of the Rift Valley — singularly along the Kerio-Pokot boundary — with farmland and dwellings destroyed.
According to the weatherman, the heavy rains and flash floods are likely to continue in coming days, meaning that there is no respite for the affected families and local authorities in those largely poor and marginalised regions.
Now, the forecast includes areas like Kisumu that are already suffering the impact of the rains, Murang’a that is predicted to feature landslides and Tana River where filling up of the Seven Forks dams will without a doubt cause flooding in the area.
True, government resources are stretched given the expanding disaster management mandate, but the government cannot afford to bury its head in the sand with respect to the humanitarian crisis that flooding is likely to cause.
It has to allocate resources as well as personnel to save lives and also salvage property. The initial response in Elgeyo was, to say the least, poor, and the public expects better.
As such, the government has to step up its response to stop the situation from deteriorating and to save lives.
More importantly, officials on the ground and weather forecasters must up their game to prevent wholesale disasters where they could be avoided. Just like with coronavirus, all reasonable measures must be taken to get Kenyans out of the harm’s way.