AFRICA/KENYA - Floods: In view of the increasing number of victims, the bishops ask for solidarity with those affected

Thursday, 16 May 2024 floods   bishops   displaced persons  

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - The floods that have hit Kenya since March have so far claimed at least 289 lives, according to to figures presented by the authorities in Nairobi on May 14. Rains could continue as a result of Cyclone Hidaya, which hit neighboring Tanzania on May 4. Kenya suffered only minor damage from the cyclone, but forecasters said rainfall and flooding could continue throughout the month. In addition to the death toll, the floods left nearly 293,000 people homeless and destroyed nearly 10,000 hectares of crops. Although meteorologists have linked the increase in flooding to climate change, some Kenyans believe the situation has been made worse by the government's lack of investment. For example, in Mathare, a settlement on the outskirts of Nairobi, residents attributed the flooding to poor maintenance and frequently clogged sewers that led to water backup. The government has ordered the evacuation of houses built on river banks or other places where there is a high risk of being swept away by floodwaters. However, the evictions were criticized by the opposition, who pointed out that the government has no relocation plan for the people who lost their homes. Meanwhile, in their May 7 statement, the Kenyan bishops called the floods a "catastrophe" and called on the government to intervene quickly to help people "struggling to cope with the immediate aftermath of this disaster" and "the rains continue to fall, exacerbating the already dire situation."
"Now is the time to utilize resources allocated for such crises effectively," said the Bishops. "We call for swift action to save lives, protect property, and, in areas where the rains have subsided, begin the necessary work of rebuilding and rehabilitation".
"Adults must take the lead in ensuring the safety of our children, particularly in areas prone to flooding. People should not take unnecessary risks. We implore communities to be vigilant and proactive in safeguarding every member, especially the most vulnerable," they said in the statement
signed by the President of the Kenya Catholic Bishops' Conference and Archbishop of Kisumu Maurice Muhatia Makumba.
The Bishops recall the collection of essential goods for people affected by the floods (see Fides, 2/5/2024) and say: "The response has been good so far and we plead for more support to aid those in desperate need". "Let us show our love and compassion through generous acts of charity, reflecting the teachings of Christ in our actions." (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 16/5/2024)