, LOIYANGALANI, Kenya Aug 18 – The government has launched an ambitious emergency response programme to provide rapid delivery of food, water and medicine to over 10 million Kenyans in arid and semi arid areas reeling from prolonged drought.
The response programme has been necessitated by serious challenges posed by the unprecedented deterioration of food security in the country following rain failure for the fourth consecutive year.
The multi-faceted rapid response programme was simultaneously launched in 11 arid and semi arid districts by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga at Loiyangalani trading centre in Marsabit North District.
Launching the programme, President Mwai Kibaki said the interventions undertaken would complement the relief food distributed by the government in conjunction with the world food programme covering 2.6 million adults, another 1.5 million children and over 250,000 others in supplementary feeding.
The President reassured Kenyans that the government was using all resources at its disposal including deployment of the disciplined forces to ensure timely and quick delivery of the relief supplies to the hungry population.
To kick off the scaled-up drought response programme, the president flagged off livestock off-take by the Kenya Meat Commission, borehole drilling, distribution of food and water to the affected families.
Relief food released by the government in the last one month to over 125 districts includes 132,280 bags of maize, 62,000 bags of rice, 30,000 bags of beans and 18,000 cartons of vegetable oil.
The President advised beneficiaries of the livestock off take programme to save the earnings and restock when the drought situation improved.
The Head of State said KMC personnel would be stationed in the affected areas to purchase the livestock for Sh8,000 per live animal.
On Education, the President urged all parents to take advantage of the free primary and subsidised secondary education offered by the government to take all children to school.
The Head of State also consented to a request by the local leadership to subdivide Marsabit North District in to two but requested local people to agree on the location of the district headquarters.
In response to development priorities in Laisamis constituency, President Kibaki assured the area residents that eight bore holes would be drilled as a priority.
The Head of state reaffirmed the government commitment to remain focused on long term solutions that would lift the country from the cycles of drought and famine.
In his speech, Prime Minister Raila Odinga assured all Kenyans affected by the current prolonged drought that nobody would starve to death.
The Prime Minister thanked development partners for continued support for relief efforts by the government and urged them to continue assisting during the emergency period.