Kenya cuts budgets to alleviate famine

August 12, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 12 – The government will slash budgets of all ministries in a bid to raise Sh5 billion to meet part of the Sh24 billion needed for emergency relief to address the drought crisis in the country.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga told Parliament on Wednesday that the government would borrow another Sh3 billion for the project while the rest of the monies were contained in specific ministerial budgets. Mr Odinga said that from allocations to the various ministries engaged in the emergency relief programme, Sh13.5 billion would be set aside specifically for the undertaking. He said that another Sh3.2 will be sourced from contingences.

Mr Odinga moved to assure the country that the government was focused on feeding the over 10 million Kenyans facing starvation.

“The immediate focus of the government’s interventions is to save those areas of high risks of humanitarian emergency. The areas cover the districts of Marsabit, Samburu, Isiolo, Mwingi, Kitui, Tana River, Turkana, Laikipia, Mandera, Wajir and Garissa,” he said.

The Cabinet held a special meeting on Tuesday and resolved to set up a Crises Response Centre at the Office of the Prime Minister. It also agreed to deploy the armed forces, the National Youth Service, and the Administration Police to deliver food, water, and medicine to the affected people.

“Within this period, immediate danger of starvation and other humanitarian disasters should be removed, food be stored in sufficient quantity in convenient locations, and adequate water sources be secured’” the PM said adding that the operations have been earmarked to take place for a period of between one and three months.

“The Ministry of Special Programmes has already delivered food in the depots in each of these districts. It will be distributed to the affected areas as soon as the transport equipment arrives.”

Besides a food deficit, the country is facing acute water and electricity supplies which has led to rationing.

“The Ministry of Water is now procuring a large number of water tanks and bladders and will, together with the Ministry of Northern Kenya, drill, repair and maintain boreholes,” the PM said in his statement.       

As regards water supply in Nairobi City, 20 boreholes will be drilled, 20 bowsers deployed, and additional 1000 water tanks installed in Nairobi, all within the next three months. In addition, the Ministry of Water will purchase about 80 million litres of water per day from private borehole owners. These should supply water to 800,000 people in Nairobi.

In other areas across the country, 200 boreholes will be drilled, 30 water bowsers deployed, and 5,000 water tanks installed, again within three months. These interventions will supply water to 5.7 million people, and 4.4 million livestock.

Northern Kenya, Coast and Ukambani areas are worst hit by the crisis. Pastoralists especially have driven their animals for hundreds of kilometers in search of water and pasture. The government has allocated Sh700 million to the Kenya Meat Commission to purchase the animals to avert death.

Members of Parliament however questioned the government’s criteria in identifying the areas are in urgent need of food aid. The lawmakers claimed that many other parts of the northern, Eastern and Rift Valley are also hit hard.

“We are afraid these interventions as good as they, will be implemented through the bureaucratic government ministries they will come too late and our animals will continue to die and people to suffer,” complained North Horr MP Chachu Ganya.

“I am wondering why he has left out Taita where all Somali and Maasai animals are converging in one borehole,” said Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu.


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