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The Telescope

Kenya is far from ready to handle major disaster


Lately national conversations have been suffused with concerns about Kenya’s disaster preparedness. Is the universe telling us something? I sure hope not!

Disaster preparation is no doubt a sensitive topic for many of us. Nobody wants to feel like a ‘Chicken Little’ living under a cloud of “something might happen.”

But this is the reality and having had friends who were directly impacted by tragedies such as terrorist attacks, fires and many other natural and artificial disasters in areas where no one thought were susceptible I think it is about time we handle the matter more seriously.

Undeniably, Kenya is far from being effectively equipped to respond to the variety of emergencies and disasters that are likely to occur and which have indeed occurred in the past. What is more, its top leadership is patently far from being sufficiently sensitized and alive to the natural and human-caused dangers that are essentially waiting to happen.

Ordinarily, the government should be both the first-order mitigator and responder when disaster strikes, but its leadership is apathetic and in effect, disinterested except in the opportunities for media attention .

Moreover, the National Disaster Operations Centre (NDOC) remains technically asleep. This has left the Kenya Red Cross Society as the de facto and much-respected “government” in disaster-response situations all across the country.111007_MZB_CVM01

I found myself agreeing with Raila Odinga’s sentiments over the Garissa University College attack last month: “We cannot have Air Force planes which only fly over Nyayo National Stadium during public holidays and when our children are being massacred in Garissa they are nowhere,” he said.

In Nepal more than 4000 people to lost their lives in the wake of a  powerful earthquake with a 7.8 magnitude. This disaster rekindles memories of tremors that hit Nairobi, Central, Eastern, Rift Valley, and Coast  following volcanic activity on Ol Donyo Lengai, near Lake Natron, Tanzania, in 2007.

At the time, concerns were raised over the possible damage and massive loss of life should a major quake hit  the country. And two months ago, a report revealed that 75 percent of buildings in Nairobi could not withstand a quake.

Evidently, two years shy of a decade later , a little has changed since the tremors.And God forbid, if an earthquake similar to that of Nepal hit Nairobi, the after effects would be unthinkable.

Disaster management is essential to address eventualities in society.

This article was published on May 2 2015 on the People Daily Newspaper.

The Telescope

Create moments with loved ones for death is final

I have seen couples live under the same roof but emotionally worlds apart, each absorbed in their work or dealings that they barely acknowledge one another

I cannot fathom the emotional devastation that gripped those who visited Chiromo mortuary to identify bodies of their kin following the recent terrorist attack on Garissa university that left more than 140 dead and scores missing.

It was a tragedy that sparked reactions of anger, pain and fear. We vented the feelings through the media, phone calls and protests.

We condemned the government for doing so little to save the innocent souls. We lashed at leaders for caring only for their security. We blamed Garissa residents for working in cahoot with Al Shabaab terror group. All these actions did not change the fact that we lost lives.11055257_983061218380443_4175383918597419458_o-710x434

May the innocent souls rest in peace.

Death is cruel. No one word can express the pain nor the agony shared.

The images that we saw on national television were heart-rending: A father wailing, wrenched in the hopelessness and helplessness of losing a loved one. Another narrating how she had invested in their daughter? Can it get worse?

Should death be the awakening call to cherish every moment with our loved ones.Should death trigger the deep sorrow and grief? Should we seek strength in warm memories? Memories that will seldom fill the void of a deep desperate need of the longing of all yesterdays?

Can we choose to be different in a modern world where many distractions burden our minds? Distractions that keep our minds away from what needs to be done or it will be burying the head in the sand?

Ours is a world where television, radio and even jobs get in the way of quality time with family and friends.

It is easy to ignore those around us who need our attention, affection and companionship.I have seen couples live under the same roof but emotionally worlds apart, each absorbed in her work or dealings that they barely acknowledge one another.

Children are l14276399eft at the mercies of house helps who could instil (im)morals that could impact on the young ones future.

We must learn to set aside time for our loved ones and to manage our time so as not to neglect the people and things that are important in our lives.

Enjoy the distractions but don’t let them be a hurdle or roadblock in life.Find time to spend with family and friends. Create time for yourself. Cherish every moment you can with those you love.

Life is a fragile affair, we are all dancing on the edge of a precipice a dizzy cliff so high we can not see the bottom.One by one we will all lose that we love most into the dark ravine.

This article was published on the April 11 2015  in People Daily Kenya