Tana Delta flood victims say snakes, monitor lizards invading camps

tana camp
tana camp

What you need to know:

  • They said they have had six cases of snake attacks on children while they sleep and while playing outside.
  • The health centres they depended on have been rendered inaccessible.
  • Traditional midwives are now busy in the camps as they are sought for in times of need.
  • Local leaders now want KenGen to compensate the flood victims for their losses.

Flood victims living in camps in the Tana Delta have said that they are sharing tents with deadly snakes and face frequent visits by dangerous reptiles.

Speaking to the Nation, the victims at Marafa camp noted that the thorny bushes nearby have been harbouring snakes which sneak into their shelters at night for warmth, posing danger to their children.

The victims noted that for the past two weeks, they have had six cases of snake attacks on children while they sleep and while playing outside.

SNAKES

"I heard my daughter cry in the middle of the night and when I turned I heard the snake hissing. That was when I grabbed my daughter and ran out with her. The other children woke up in shock and ran out with me," said Hanna Gafur.

Ms Gafur noted that she took the girl to a herbalist, also in the camp, who used a traditional stone to extract the poison.

Women fetching water from the nearby river have reported seeing huge monitor lizards which are eating their chickens.

The residents noted that this is the only place they can settle after similar hardships pushed them out of two other camps. 

The health centres they depended on have been rendered inaccessible while the easily reachable ones have been starved of supplies and only offer pain killers for every diagnosis.

Women have been forced to deliver at the camps as the road linking them to hospitals was cut off by the floods.

TRADITIONAL MIDWIVES

Traditional midwives are now busy in the camps as they are sought for in times of need by expectant women.

"This camp had three midwives. We used to share them in the three villages that neighboured us. Now they are in different camps – we had to deploy one each to a camp to render the services required down there," said one woman.

According to Shora Godhana, the midwife at Marafa camp, the village made a makeshift maternity wing to attend to the women.

"The nearest health facility from Marafa area is Oda or Ngao which are over 50 kilometres away along the road which is completely impassable. We tried taking some of our women there but we lost them midway," said Shora.

COMPLICATIONS AT BIRTH

The midwife noted that sometimes, women develop serious complications that require a specialist who is not readily available.

"There is a woman we are currently just praying for. She had challenges during birth and bled so much that she could not even hold her baby after birth. We have put her on bed rest and have been feeding her on vegetables and traditional herbs to help her gain blood and more strength," she said.

Diarrhoea has also become a cause for alarm with children complaining of stomach aches.

The camps are yet to get toilets and as a result, the locals have been relieving themselves in nearby bushes and there are now fears of a possible outbreak of cholera if the floods persist.

COMPENSATE VICTIMS

Meanwhile, local legislators have filed a petition in Parliament seeking to compel the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) to compensate the flood victims for their losses.

According to Garsen MP Ali Wario Guyo, KenGen is responsible for the floods witnessed in Tana River and hence must take the burden of resettling the people.

"They opened the flood gates after they were satisfied with what they had gathered. They did not consider our situation downstream," he said.

But during a recent visit, KenGen Corporate Affairs Manager Grace Chepkwony denied the claims, noting that the floods in Tana River were as a result of a natural flow from the dams.