, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 20 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Thursday unveiled a task force mandated to mitigate the ravages of a looming famine disaster in the country.
He said the committee to be chaired by Special Programme Permanent Secretary Ali Daud would undertake relief distribution operations in all the 178 affected districts.
The Premier announced that the committee had already shipped emergency relief supplies to 13 of the most affected districts to avert a humanitarian crisis as the impact of the severe drought bites deep.
“The committee will be entrusted with the task of restoring the food stock in all the vulnerable districts to remove the danger of starvation and secure provision of adequate source of water within the locality of affected residents,” he said.
Mr Odinga said the government had also rolled out a major livestock off-take exercise to cushion the farmers from loses accruing as a result of the prevailing dry spell amid reports that the drought was taking a high toll on animals.
He said the committee had resolved to buy every head of cattle at a price of Sh8,000 regardless of the weight of the animals to help the farmers salvage part of the value of their stock.
The premier told a press conference at his treasury offices that a revolving fund was established under the Kenya Meat Commission to supplement subsidy progarmme towards redemption of the company after the take off exercise.
He said at least 300,000 heads of cattle would be purchased in the next 100 days but said plans were underway to facilitate provision of water through sinking of wells and dams in drought stricken districts.
The Premier said most government bodies including the security forces were enlisted in the emergency relief operations to contain possible fatalities due starvation.
“We have already dispatched more than 135,000 bags of maize to the affected districts including Marsabit, Garissa, Samburu, Tana River, Narok, Laikipia and Mandera where acute shortage of food was experienced,” he said.
Mr Odinga also said the schools feeding Programme would continue during these August holidays and encouraged children in the affected areas to take advantage of the free meals at the institutions during the difficult period.
The task force comes after the government earlier in the week declared the current famine crisis in the country a national disaster and embarked on relief distribution drives to save the masses from starvation.