Kenya: faced with the risk of flooding, the government takes a radical decision which causes victims

Kenya: faced with the risk of flooding, the government takes a radical decision which causes victims
Kenya: faced with the risk of flooding, the government takes a radical decision which causes victims

For several weeks, Kenya has been experiencing heavy rains which have caused devastating floods, killing 257 people, destroying bridges, roads and houses and displacing tens of thousands of homes.

Faced with the scale of the damage, President William Ruto ordered on April 30 the evacuation of all people living in areas at risk of flooding. These evacuations will be done “by hook or by crook”, government spokesperson Isaac Mwaura warned this weekend.

On Wednesday, in Mukuru, one of the largest slums in the Kenyan capital, an excavator undertook demolition work on the banks of the river of the same name, crushing the tin roofs with its mechanical arm and sweeping away the fragile structures of wood or bricks, before the eyes of the inhabitants.

Some rush to recover the sheets of iron thrown on the ground, in the hope of rebuilding a roof a little further away or of earning a few shillings by reselling them; others search the debris for personal effects.

They arrived suddenly with their excavators“, says Catherine Masai: “ They demolished our houses without giving us a place to go“.

“The government is wrong”

Slums, where informal settlements grow in anarchy, are particularly exposed to the risk of flooding.

In Mathare, another shantytown in the eastern suburbs of Nairobi, a flash flood from the river that runs through the neighborhood swept away houses built on the banks, killing at least 13 people on April 24.

In Mukuru, the local river also overflowed. But Catherine Masai does not budge.

We have lived here for over 30 years without being swept away by floods. If that had been the case, we wouldn’t be able to live here,” says the fifty-year-old: “We stayed because we felt good. Those who felt threatened by the floods have already left.

The government is wrong to kick us out“, she believes, not convinced by the explanations of President Ruto who affirmed that the “ evacuations » populations living in risk areas were made “ for their safety“.

We can protect them elsewhere“, declared the Head of State on Monday during a visit to Mathare, assuring: “ There will be enough food, there will be blankets, there will be mattresses and we will take care of their children“.

The head of state promised that each displaced household would receive the sum of 10,000 Kenyan shillings (around 70 euros).

But in Mukuru, Sheila Mbone claims to have received no information on where she would be relocated.

The government is demolishing our houses without telling us where we will be relocated“, explains the young woman of 20 years: “ What are we supposed to do as victims?

With AFP

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