Enhance capacity to deal with disasters

The destruction of roads, bridges and other infrastructure as a result of the El Nino rains pounding the country is a reminder of the need to enhance disaster preparedness.

Floods, landslides and other devastating natural occurrences are not preventable but the consequences can be mitigated.

A culture of helplessness and desperation is not the solution. Preventive measures should be taken as some places are known to be prone to disasters.

Through the National Policy on Disaster Management, the authorities must institutionalise mechanisms for addressing such calamities.

The emphasis should be on preparedness by the government, communities and households in disaster reduction. Droughts, fires, floods, technological shortcomings, terrorism and epidemics disrupt lives and livelihoods.

A major disaster that occurred in Kitui County in December 2021 still makes a mockery of the government’s preparedness: The River Enziu Bridge tragedy claimed 32 lives yet reconstruction of the facility incomplete, two years later.

The firm that won the tender to rebuild the bridge for Sh700 million in 24 months has failed to deliver, leaving locals stranded as rains wreak havoc. With the area experiencing flash floods, there are fears that another tragedy could strike.

There had been safety fears over the rickety bridge but the authorities did not make any effort to prevent the disaster.

As often happens, immediately after the tragedy, the government moved in with lofty promises that are yet to be fulfilled.

Almost 150 people have been killed in the ongoing floods that have washed away sections of roads across the country.

Helicopters are being used to supply relief food and other basic commodities to the affected areas. The government has disbursed Sh10 billion to the counties to help in dealing with the effects of the disaster and pledged to match the amount.

The authorities must streamline and strengthen response to natural disasters to protect lives, property and infrastructure. This is a case where prevention through enhanced capacity preparedness and intervention is better than cure.