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Raila statement on food and water crises

Mr Speaker Sir

I stand here today to present the emergency interventions that the Government will carry out to overcome the serious water, food and power crises that our Nation now face. We will act rapidly and decisively, mobilising all arms of the Government.

On July 22 2009, I did alert this House and the Nation at large about the threat of food, energy and water insecurity.  These challenges are so immense that the Government implores all Members of Parliament and fellow citizens who are fortunate enough to be spared of extreme hardship, to join us in this cause. I also appeal to the international community to enhance its assistance to this Nation. Together, we can overcome the immediate challenges, and then, find lasting solutions.

Mr Speaker Sir

The nation is in a serious water, food and energy crisis.  In the   ASAL areas, our fellow citizens have to trek long distances to water points. Thirst combined with hunger is taking a heavy toll on the lives and health of our people. 

About 70-90 per cent of our livestock are out of the normal grazing zones, scavenging for pastures in any place including in game parks and urban areas. There is therefore a danger of increased wildlife-human conflict, massive environmental degradation, and inter-community tensions.  We have lost 130,000 cattle.  

Mr Speaker Sir

This year, national maize harvest will be at best 20 million bags. Local production will therefore fall short of our national consumption by at least 13 million bags.

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The power supply situation is equally grim. Hydro power generation has already been cut by 46%, and our total capacity has been reduced to about 900 MW. This falls short of the peak demand by 200 MW. We thus had no choice but to introduce power rationing.

Mr Speaker Sir

Preliminary assessments of the Kenya Food Security Steering Group show that large areas now face high risks of humanitarian emergency.

Therefore, the immediate focus of the Governments interventions is to save those areas of high risks of humanitarian emergency. The areas cover the following 11 Districts: Marsabit; Samburu; Isiolo; Mwingi; Kitui; Tana River; Turkana; Laikipia; Mandera; Wajir; and Garissa.

We will mount Special Operations in each of these Districts. This will involve deployment of transport and other equipments of the Armed Forces, the National Youth Service, and the Administration Police, for delivery of food, water, and medicine. The deployment will be for 1 3 months.

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 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.

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.       

President Kibaki and I will launch the Special Operations on Monday, 17th of August, 2009 in Marsabit, Mandera and Moyale.

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Mr Speaker Sir

Assistance to the other affected areas will commence concurrently, utilizing more actively the existing intervention mechanisms of government ministries.

In the rural areas, about 7.5 million people are in need of food aid. Of this, 3.8 million will be assisted under the Emergency Operation Programme. About 2 million people who are in the areas traditionally not prone to drought will be catered for by GoKs own food relief. Finally, 1.5 million children and 150,000 IDPs will continue to be cared for under the respective programmes. 

In addition, there are 2.5 million food-insecure Kenyans in the urban areas. To assist them, Kazi Kwa Vijana (KKV) will employ 300,000 youths during the next six months, and the Ministry of Gender will introduce a pilot of a targeted food subsidy scheme this September.  This scheme will be scaled up to cover 200,000 people by March 2010.

Mr Speaker Sir

The Government will also ensure that adequate supply of maize will continue to be available in the country.  Duty waiver on maize imports will be extended to June 2010 to facilitate importation by the private sector.

More importantly, to enhance food production in the coming short rains reason and beyond, the Ministry of Agriculture will expand subsidized sales and free distribution of fertilizers and seeds. In addition, a large quantity of relief seeds will be distributed to the famine stricken areas.

In addition, about 40,000 acres of irrigated food production will be put into use by September, 2009. Further, the Ministry will promote seed multiplication of traditional crops which performs well even with little moisture. A number of other longer term interventions are also underway.

Mr Speaker Sir

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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 5000 water tanks installed, again within three months. These interventions will supply water to 5.7 million people, and 4.4 million livestock.

Mr Speaker Sir

The most effective means to assist our pastoralists is to scale up and expedite emergency off-take of livestock. To this end, the Government will assist the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) in setting up a revolving fund for its purchase of livestock. The Government will also fully subsidize the costs of transporting livestock to KMC.

To further support emergency off-take of livestock, the Government will assist Agriculture Finance Corporation to enhance its capacity to extend loans to private ranchers to finance their purchases of livestock for fattening and subsequent sales. The Government will also offer supplementary animal feeds and medicine to save livestock in ill health.

Turning to the power situation, we expect that power shortages will ease in mid- October. By that time, new generation capacity of 222 MW will be commissioned, enough to cover the loss of hydro generation. The Government will provide additional tariff subsidy in order to minimize any increase in costs of power to industry and consumers.

Mr Speaker Sir

At the same time, the Government will introduce energy saving measures. For example, during August September, 2009, we will distribute 1.25 million energy saving bulbs free, in exchange for regular bulbs currently in use. This will save some 50 MW with an estimated cost of Ksh 300 million. In addition, energy saving devices will be installed in major government buildings.

Total cost of these Drought Crisis Interventions is estimated at Kshs 24 billion. This will be financed by contingencies and other resources in the 2009/10 Budget, some borrowing, and relatively small cuts of the 2009/10 Budget of all ministries and agencies.   

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Mr Speaker Sir

A Drought Crisis Response Center (DCRC) has been established in the Office of the Prime Minister to coordinate the Governments Drought Crisis Interventions. Its work will be guided by a National Steering Committee of Ministers chaired by the Prime Minister. The Permanent Secretary for Special Programmes will serve as the DCRCs Coordinator.    

In closing, let me appeal once again to our business community in Kenya and to our development partners, to come forward and join the Government in extending relief that our fellow citizens so dearly deserve.

Thank you.



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