IDP woes increase as the long rains fall
Published on March 24, 2008, 12:00 am
By Standard Reporters
The onset of the long rains poses a great health risk to thousands of displaced people in the North Rift.
There is risk of malaria, pneumonia and water borne diseases. At the Eldoret Showground, Burnt Forest and Timboroa, the rain has wreaked havoc.
Displaced people have dug trenches in the camps to control the flow of rainwater, while those whose tents are torn have to contend with the cold and rain.
Cooking, which is normally done in the open using firewood, has been rendered impossible, while many tents are water logged.
“We cannot sleep and prepare food for our children. The rain has soaked our bedding and cooking has become impossible,” says Mr Enock Mwangi.
The mobile schools established in the camps have also been affected, forcing teachers to suspend learning.
“We do not have desks and chairs so the pupils sit on the ground. But it is now muddy,” says a teacher, Mr Stanley Njoroge.
A Child Welfare Society of Kenya social worker, Ms Esther Kihara, says the rain has turned life in the camps into a nightmare.
“It is necessary to provide warm clothing to ward off the cold,” says Kihara.
A Red Cross team leader in charge of health, nutrition and sanitation, Mr James Mwangi, says the society has been fighting hard to contain diseases.
Mwangi says about 30 per cent of those seeking treatment in the mobile medical clinics run by the Society have respiratory tract infections.
He says the high number of infections is due to cold weather, poor shelter and congestion.
Apart from respiratory infections, Mwangi says the victims also suffer from malaria, pneumonia and skin infections.
Despite the problems, majority of the displaced are not ready to go back to their farms.
“I fear for my life and I cannot return to my farm. I saw my neighbour razing down my property. I would rather suffer here,” says Ms Veronica Wanjiru.
At the IDP camps, clash victims depend on food rations from the Kenya Red Cross Society.
Ms Rose Wangui, a 28-year-old mother of four, says the food ration she receives is not enough.
She says her two children became sick a few days after they joined the camp due to harsh living conditions.
Meanwhile, displaced people who had taken refuge at Nairobi’s St Andrews PCEA Church after eviction from the city streets are back at Limuru’s Kirathimo camp.
The 36 adults and 10 children had been camping on Kimathi Street since Thursday demanding an audience with the Government.
They were, however, forced out of the street on Saturday and some ferried back to Kirathimo. A few sought overnight shelter at the PCEA church.
On Sunday, the church offered them transport back to the Limuru, saying it had no capacity to maintain them. Speaking to The Standard, they tearfully narrated how the Government had neglected them.