NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 2 – Labour Minister John Munyes has pointed out that adequate transportation is vital for relief food distribution and needs to be included in government measures to feed hungry Kenyans.,
He explained that lack of transport has aggravated the food shortage because many of the people affected cannot access the aid provided.
“The Ministry of State for Special Programmes has sent food to Lodwar and to all these areas, but as long as you are not giving enough transportation for that food, then you have not done any job,” Mr Munyes highlighted.
Speaking at the same time, former legislator Kalembe Ndile called on donors to develop mechanisms to monitor donated aid.
“I am also appealing to the international community whom we call donors, to help us have mechanisms to monitor their aid,” Mr Ndile said. “This is because we have seen our food being sold by the same people who should have been monitoring it.”
With at least 10 million people in danger of starvation, President Mwai Kibaki last month made an international appeal for food aid of Sh37 billion.
Currently, the government and World Food Programme are feeding 1.4 million people under the emergency operation programme.
Another one million people are also being fed through direct government interventions.
The government needs Sh37 billion for emergency food requirements, support for schools and for agricultural and livestock interventions.
Kenya is suffering the effects of climate change. Weather patterns have become erratic, moving from the extremes of drought and flooding.
Meteorologists have warned that the off-season rain seen in the past week is temporary, since January and February are normally dry months.
Destruction of the country’s forests has also worsened the situation, since forests help attract rain clouds, protect soil from erosion and contribute to the flow of rivers.
Currently, forest cover in Kenya has declined to less than 1.5 percent of the country’s land mass, compared to the minimum 10 percent recommended by the United Nations.
Another factor is the violence following the December 2007 election, which displaced thousands of farmers, especially in the food basket of the country – the Rift Valley region.
Agriculture, public health, water availability, energy use, infrastructure and services like tourism are all facing the negative effects of the current drought.