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Sh2.9b kickstarts famine battle

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 14 – The government on Friday released Sh2.9 billion to kick off the campaign to deliver food, water and medicine to communities hit by drought across the country.

During a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Raila Odinga to formally launch the National Drought Crisis Steering Committee, the government also announced that various departments had provided trucks to ferry food to Northern Kenya where the relief efforts will formally kick off on Monday.

The National Drought Crisis Steering Committee is charged with co-ordinating the government’s efforts to deliver food to affected communities.

"The military headquarters will flag off 25 trucks loaded with food destined for Northern Kenya, 15 of which left this morning (Friday)," The Prime Minister.

The National Youth Service will release 20 trucks while the Administration Police has provided five trucks to distribute food in other parts of the country.

A total of 25 trucks were due to hit the road on Saturday with food for various destinations.

The Steering Committee also discussed crisis interventions scheduled to kick off with food distribution, water trucking, drilling boreholes and livestock off-take in Loiyangalani in Laisamis District at 10 am on Monday.

President Mwai Kibaki and the Prime Minister Raila Odinga are expected to launch the food distribution and water trucking in North Horr before proceeding to Sololo in Moyale where they will flag off food distribution, drilling of boreholes and livestock off-take.

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Addressing the inaugural meeting of the Steering Committee, the Prime Minister said the challenge was so immense that it required the mobilisation of all arms of government, which must act rapidly and decisively.

"Our immediate focus is to save areas that risk turning into humanitarian emergency," he said.

The humanitarian emergency covers 11 districts which include Marsabit, Moyale, Samburu, Isiolo, Mwingi, Tana River, Turkana, Laikipia, Mandera, Wajir and Garissa.

The government is to mount special operations in each of these districts, delivering food, water and medicine.

The PM said delivery of food and water to all affected districts other than the targeted 11 would commence concurrently.

He asked the Ministry of Water to increase supply of safe water in both rural and urban areas. The target is for the ministry to supply water to at least 800,000 people in Nairobi, 5.7 million people in other areas and to 4.4 million livestock.

The Ministry of Special Programmes is to be in charge of delivering food aid to 5.8 million Kenyans. Out of these, 3.8 million are under the emergency operation. This is to be conducted jointly with WFP.

The PM said the Ministry of Education would reinforce the school feeding programme to ensure that 1.5 million children are catered for.

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