2.5 million Kenyans still need food aid

February 16, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 16 – The government has said that an additional 2.5 million Kenyans are in need of food aid, but are yet to start receiving it.

Special programmes assistant Minister Mohamed Ali said on Wednesday said that the Government and World Food Programme were currently feeding 2.6 million Kenyans despite an estimated five million people facing starvation.

He said water, food and pasture remained the greatest threats and the government was trying to speed up and enhance the provisions of aid to the affected areas.

"The government has set aside Sh1.1 billion so that the animal off take programme can kick off, although it\’s a bit late, the problem has been getting the finances," Mr Ali said.

Northern Kenya Development Minister Mohamed Elmi said it was regrettable that the Arid and Semi Arid lands policy had been a draft for the last 10 years.

He said there was need for a national drought management contingency fund to address drought issues when they occurred.

"This particular drought response is not as good as it should be and is not as well coordinated as it should be. While we have a drought now, unless we put in the system and the institutions in place, we will just keep falling back," Mr Elmi said.

"So, imagine if we had a drought management authority with the contingency fund, we wouldn\’t be taking this long to do it," he added.

At least Sh9.6 billion has already been disbursed to ministries and agencies directly participating in response efforts.

Garissa, Marsabit, Isiolo, Tana River, Tharaka, Wajir, Mandera, West Pokot, Samburu, Baringo, Kajiado, Makueni, Kwale, Kilifi and Turkana regions are said to be the worst affected by the drought.

On Tuesday, the Kenya Meteorological Department said the current rains did not mark the beginning of the long rains season but was as a result of moisture from the Congo forest.

Assistant Director, Public Weather Ayub Shaka had told Capital News that the rains would last for only four days before the dry spell returned.

"This is a dry month but occasionally, we have tropical cyclones, which is like a big system that has low pressures and winds tend to converge there," he had explained.

"In the process they drift the rain clouds or the moisture which could be anywhere in the neighbourhood. Like in our case there is permanent moisture over Congo forest which has drifted to the East to cover parts of Uganda and Southern Kenya. And that\’s why we are getting rains in those areas," Mr Shaka had said.

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