Kenya: Tana River Flood Victims Oppose Plans to Transfer Them

A displaced resident at a camp in Madogo, Tana River County.

Residents of Bura in Tana River County have opposed plans to evacuate them to safety, saying the government had not shown them alternative land on which to settle.

The locals, who have been displaced by floods, said although the idea is well-intentioned, the procedure is cosmetic and will leave them stranded once the calamity is over.

"We have seen what happened to our colleagues in Garsen. They were evicted from a plot of land on which they had been settled for eight months," said Ms Fatma Hussein.

Ms Hussein said the government was fond of playing with their lives by making tough announcements and warned that the people would not be fooled easily this time round.

The residents also noted that the government had not laid down any strategies for evacuating them and warned that they would resist any attempts to move them.

"If we are to be arrested for fighting to survive, then they had better come for all of us. What we are asking for is a concrete and long-term plan, not mere government public relations," said Mr Hussein Kore.

In Garsen, the locals have demanded compensation for losses occasioned by the floods.

The locals, who had earlier been settled through a government initiative that saw the Kenya Red Cross Society build houses for them, were forced to move by raging flood waters.

They accused the government of not involving them when deciding on where they could build houses and instead imposing the project on them.

"We knew this area was unsuitable. We warned the authorities in charge not to facilitate construction here but they listened to our MP, who knows nothing about this place and our way of life," said Mr Joseph Deye.

The residents have threatened not to move from the place where they will be resettled and to build homes there.

Meanwhile, Tana River Governor Dhadho Godhana has appealed to the national government to support his administration in coming up with a lasting solution to the floods menace.

"We have requested for Sh4 billion to enable us to avert the perennial problem, but the government has not been able to sort us out. But when Covid-19 came recently, the state poured billions of shillings into a mysterious thing," he said.

Mr Godhana said the government's priorities were misplaced and did not focus on solving any problems but simply making statements on the residents' plight.

More than 18,000 people have since been displaced by the floods, with 12,000 acres of farmland submerged.

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