, 29 November, 2019 / 1:56 AM
Following the devastation occasioned by unprecedented torrential rains in parts of Kenya with the Government Spokesman giving statistics of 118 deaths, 350,000 people displaced, and 16,700 houses destroyed across 32 counties in a span of two months, Catholic Bishops in the East African country have issued an appeal for humanitarian aid to save lives.
“The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) is appealing to all Christians, partners and people of goodwill to support our emergency response initiatives to the flooding in our Dioceses,” reads part of a statement signed on behalf of the Bishops by KCCB Chairman, Archbishop Philip Anyolo and Caritas Kenya President, Archbishop Martin Kivuva.
According to a situation report by the development and humanitarian arm of the Bishops, Caritas Kenya, 14 counties have been affected by a variety of rain-induced catastrophes such as flooding, mudslides, lightning strikes and hailstones leading to loss of lives, displacement of people as well as destruction of crops and property.
Besides key relief items such as food, clean drinking water, clothes and toiletries, the Bishops are also requesting in their November 26 appeal for “water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions through distribution of sanitary materials, soap and Chlorine for water treatment and disinfection of latrines” as well as medical services due to exposure to water-borne diseases.
“We kindly request you to support this initiative by donating funds, food and non-food items to save the lives of the affected population,” the Bishops have appealed.
The Church leaders have asked Caritas Kenya to coordinate the collection of the aid through its networks at diocesan and parish levels saying, “In-kind donations (dry food and non-food items) can be channeled through our Parishes, Diocesan and National offices and other church institutions.”
The situation report by Caritas Kenya issued Monday, November 25 indicates that the Kenyan counties of Murang’a, West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet have been affected by mudslides, while Wajir, Marsabit, Mandera, Kwale, Kitui, Kilifi, Garissa, Busia and Turkana have experienced flooding resulting in loss of human lives and animals. Lightning strikes have been reported in Busia County killing people and livestock.
On Thursday, November 28, the Kenyan Government gave the latest statistics of the effects of the heavy rains over the last couple of months, with the number of counties affected more than double those given in the Catholic Bishops' report over the same period.
“For the last two months, disasters through floods or landslide have affected the country where 32 counties are mostly affected, Including West Pokot. The Government has put in more efforts to see to it that those affected are assisted,” Kenya News Agency has quoted the Government Spokesman, Cyrus Oguna as telling journalists Thursday, November 28 in Kapenguria, the headquarters of West Pokot County
Revealing that most of those who have lost their lives are children and young people aged between 8 and 20 years, Oguna stated, “So far, 118 people have lost their lives and the government has put in place various agencies, including the Kenya Defense Forces, National Police Service among others to assist the affected people. About 350,000 were displaced and 16,700 houses destroyed.”
“The National Government requires Sh. 1.052 billion (USD 15.2 million) for all affected people in the country, where, West Pokot will take about Sh. 20 million (USD 2 million),” the Government Spokesman added.
In an exclusive interview with ACI Africa Monday, November 25, Caritas Kenya National Director, Stephen Kituku confirmed that his office had issued an alert, which was also taken up by Caritas Africa and Caritas Internationalis in view of engaging more people and entities to help save lives.
“The alert contains information on what has happened, the number of affected people and what the local Church is doing, as well as what we are asking the Caritas fraternity to do,” Mr. Kituku told ACI Africa in the Monday interview.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa