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Landslide survivors seek help from State : The Standard




Over 300 residents are huddled in this church at Kichumwa area in Elgeyo Marakwet County. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]

A humanitarian crisis is looming in several camps accommodating survivors of last week’s Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot landslides.

Hundreds of survivors have sought refuge in churches and schools while others are being accommodated by their relatives.
At Kipchumwa location where the landslide started, more than 300 residents are huddled at AIC Wewo Church with no food and sanitation facilities. 
“The situation here is critical. We have since received mattresses but no blankets. Our children are suffering since the rains are still heavy and we didn’t carry anything apart from the clothes we were wearing. Since we can’t all fit in here, our husbands have been sleeping outside but when it rains they are forced to squeeze in here,” narrated Jane Chemeitoi, one of those displaced.
SEE ALSO: Elder’s mission to preserve Keiyo cultureThe government has sent some help but much of it is being directed to Chesegon and Sambalat areas, which were hard hit by the mudslides that left 18 people dead. Seventeen others are still missing.
“Most of the aid we are now using is coming from local leaders and well-wishers. We are hopeful more help will come soon since we are suffering,” she added.
Chemeitoi is worried that with the government focusing all resources on the fight against Covid-19, they might be forgotten. 
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“We might not die of coronavirus, but the life we are living here is a health hazard since there are no facilities. We are sharing the only pit latrine which is almost full now,” she said.
In the place where their houses stood before, massive gullies have now taken over concealing any human activity prior to the mudslide.
SEE ALSO: Elgeyo Marakwet residents move to court over appointments“The rains are still pounding, so I don’t think we are out of the woods yet; we are anticipating more mudslides. We lost everything we ever owned,” noted William Chesir.
Mr Chesir, whose relatives are still missing, has vowed never to return to the village even though he doesn’t have anywhere else to go.
“I am certain we haven’t seen the worst yet, with the gullies left behind last week, we can be sure the place is not safe for occupation,” he added.
Keneth Kemboi said since last week’s mudslide wasn’t the first to happen in the region, they needed a lasting solution, like relocation to safer grounds.
Yesterday, a group of leaders from the region among them Senator Kipchumba Murkomen visited the camp and promised to look into their plight.
SEE ALSO: A school that is a safe haven for children in banditry-hit area“We need a permanent solution, and the only option is relocating everyone living in the landslide prone areas. We shall move to Parliament and draft a bill seeking compensation through a land exchange programme,” said Murkomen.
He said people who were evicted from Embobut Forest settled along the escarpment where they have been undertaking agricultural activities leading to such disasters. He said the area should be reforested.
Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya said the government was doing its best to provide food to the displaced and asked those still living on the escarpment to relocate before another disaster strikes.
He said a command centre had been set up at Sambalat Primary School and Cheptulel Secondary School in the respective counties to coordinate recovery efforts and relief missions.
West Pokot was one of the areas badly affected by heavy rains in November and December last year when more than 40 people died after massive landslides. The Chepera Bridge, which was swept away at the time, has still not been rebuilt, cutting off the village of Chesogon.
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Related Topics
Elgeyo MarakwetWest Pokot landslidesCovid-19

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