Flood victims living in camps find little to cheer ahead of Christmas - Daily Nation
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Flood victims living in camps find little to cheer ahead of Christmas

Thursday December 22 2011

Women displaced by floods wait for food rations from Samia DC’s office at a camp in Mahawa, West Ugenya. Some 425 people are at the camp after their homes were knocked down by the floods that destroyed property worth millions in western Kenya. Photo/TOM OTIENO

Women displaced by floods wait for food rations from Samia DC’s office at a camp in Mahawa, West Ugenya. Some 425 people are at the camp after their homes were knocked down by the floods that destroyed property worth millions in western Kenya. Photo/TOM OTIENO 

By JUSTUS WANGA AND ERIC OLOO [email protected]

Even as the Christmas mood sets in, thousands of displaced families are languishing in camps unsure of where their next meal will come from.

The families displaced by floods in Alego-Usonga, Budalang’i and Ugenya constituencies are camping at various sites after the raging floods destroyed their homes and crops and swept away their animals.

River Nzoia broke its banks about three weeks ago.

Various homes have been left deserted after the affected families moved to safer grounds.

The camps for the displaced are mainly inhabited by women and children.

Choose what to eat

“We will not enjoy Christmas this year because my home was destroyed by floods. We have been relying on food rations from well wishers,” Ms Jenipher Mauko, 54, said.

“This negates the spirit of the festive season as I normally choose what to eat and buy,” the widow and mother of nine said.

Several maize farms are still waterlogged and huge chunks of rice plantations destroyed by the floods.

Ms Jecinta Auma, whose grass thatched hut was knocked down by the floods, says her dreams of a beautiful Christmas are ruined.

“I had saved Sh500 to buywheat flour and sugar for the festivities but I have used the money to take my child to the hospital. I pray that someone blesses me with something this Christmas,” she says.

There are more than five displaced camps in the region.

The camps that hold more than 2,000 people are located at Goro Primary School in Alego Usonga, Mahawa camp situated on Bunyala and Siaya border, Siginga, Gendro, Orao and Kirind.

Even though the waters have subsided, most have no homes to return to.

Ms Veronica Nyamire, who has lived near River Nzoia her entire life, says she has never witnessed the waters swell to recent levels.

“I was here during the 1961 floods but it was not near this level,” she said.

Some residents accused area MPs of not responding to their plight.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga led Cabinet Ministers James Orengo (Lands), Paul Otuoma (Sports) and Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba in a tour of affected areas last month.

A non-governmental organisation, Ugunja Community Resource Centre, and area District Commissioners’ office, have launched Ugunja Floods Disaster Fund to help the floods victims.

“We have so far obtained a donation of Sh40,000 from well-wishers and hope that more will come to assist the displaced families in Ugunja,” says Mr Aggrey Omondi, the Ugunja Community Resource Centre chief executive officer.