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Kenya’s Disaster Preparedness Failed Kenyans At Hour Of Need

Recently a dam in Solai broke its walls generating a huge disaster. Surging waters swept through an area measuring 10 km, destroying lives and property on its paths. This disaster could have been avoided.

Politicians most notably former Subukia Mp Koigi Wamwere had forewarned about the looming tragedy but institutions charged with the responsibility of adjudicating complaints raised by the public turned a blind eye to the imminent disaster which retrospectively exposes a long trail of systematic failures and a dose of acute and quite frankly deliberate human error in Kenya’s disaster management.

That incident among several others that have occurred in the country uncovered a system that has notoriously fractionated responsibilities across multiple layers of government leaving it ham-fisted to respond when tragedy strikes.

Be it as it may, it is shocking to realize that Kenya potentially boasts of deep linkages in preparedness and international processes while responding to disasters.

Rescue efforts after the Solai Dam tragedy

Rescue efforts after the Solai Dam tragedy

Kenya has participated in both the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005-2015) and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030), and was indeed among the first countries to sign up to the Africa Risk Capacity (ARC) – and makes the highest premium contribution in Africa in building resilience to disasters. Locally, there is a national policy that relevant ministries are required to allocate funds to respond to disasters.

In spite of this judicious measures there seems to be a grey area in how these resources interact while they trickle down from the top brass to their engagement at the grassroots level. Notably, coordination is primarily a worrying drift in and beyond disaster management in different functions of the government in the evolving relationship between county and national government.

With proper use of these funds national and county government officials across the country should benefit from knowledge strengthening on: disaster and resilience measurement, climate change dynamics, modelling, disaster response triggers, and thresholds and Kenyans should ultimately be benefactors to seamless policy implementation.

In summary, Kenya’s capacity to prepare and respond to disasters is not a data or information challenge; there are several sources of data, which could be joined up to improve decision-making and service delivery. In actual fact, Kenya is ahead of the other East African countries in regards to technology, data and information, and systems but what is lacking is the culture of preparedness, across and beyond key national functions and that should be dispirited.

Raila Odinga/Courtesy
The Telescope


If there was any hope that after the repeat polls Kenyans would once again appreciate the precise, methodical though marred with controversy, coming around of Raila Odinga it has evaporated in the fog of propaganda and delirious utterances in his so-called big announcements.

Yet again there is no bottom to the delusion that he displays. His efforts at obfuscation and obvious misdirection are laughable but possess severe links to very real and dangerous moves by his following that would plunge the country into dark times.

Unfortunately as wacky and malicious as it is, still we see Raila apologists widely believe and selflessly defend his theories. The same man who has overtime thrived on political crisis by engaging the government in ludicrous attacks of selfish convenience seems to lead the country in another period of national crisis.

However, if history is anything to go by, it has proven time and again that Raila Odinga is neither one to be ignored,dismissed nor wished away. His itch to acquire a leadership role as part of government and more so President, by any means necessary, should be considered seriously.

His anti-democratic eruptions and erratic behaviour that shouldn’t be confused for muddled belligerence but rather calculated moves present profound danger in the security and stability of this nation as his loyal dissidents continue to beat their chests on any media fora that gives them airtime.

Plus with an activist kind of constitution that runs the country it is not far from impossible that they could very well turn their words into actions.The government could either continue to ignore his loony ideas and restrain its probable authoritarian reflexes or spare him a seat at the table.

A scenario in which Raila Odinga’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) actualizes and further plunges the country into  deep waters of anarchy, is hypothetical- and may it remain so but if it materializes it will fall on Uhuru’s government to defend the foundations of Kenya’s democracy.


The Telescope


Kenyans in true patriotic spirit commemorated Madaraka day by remembering and honouring the brave men and women who died in fighting to liberate this country from colonial rule.

Today, hundreds of young men and women are risking their lives in service to our nation as part of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) group dispatched to Somalia under the African Union peace keeping mission there.

Its not lost to many that like their loved ones in the service, spouses, parents, siblings and children also make a deep sacrifice when a loved one goes to serve their country in war prone areas.

Renowned author Ngugi wa Thiongo made his first visit to State House to a warm welcome from the President Uhuru Kenyatta- son of Founding President Jomo Kenyatta.

Uhuru urged the award winning author, who went into self exile in 1982, to return home, saying the country needed Ngugi’s many talents.

“My quick condemnation of people who leave Africa to live in the US, Europe or Asia has been long overdue.Our continent needs scholars , reformers, business leaders and scientists.”

Kenya has crossed magnanimous milestones in the last few years and there has been noteworthy changes in the way things are run in government.

For the Kenyans who push through their daily lives to make ends meet at home , they have a distorted view of their fellow citizens overseas who insistently seem to be subject of brain drain.

And this has been a long standing debate among Kenyans and Africans generally.

My quick condemnation of people who leave Africa to live in the US, Europe or Asia has been long overdue but maybe those who leave express genuine concern for their well being once they are back.

However Kenya truly needs them: scholars, reformers, business leaders and scientists who do not serve Kenya but contribute immensely in the countries in which they reside in.

What if they came back and enriched Kenya, today?

Unlike before, there is equality before the law, and as the President emphasised, political will to enforce significant change in the country prevails.

Perhaps the government should start operation Turudi Nyumbani.

This article was published on the People Daily June 13-14, 2015/PEOPLE WEEKEND.