, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 28 – The government said on Thursday that it was not aware of any Kenyan who had died as a result of the biting famine that is affecting four million citizens in northern parts of the country.
Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua said Kenya had enough food to feed those starving in Turkana and other parts of the country, but was only facing the challenge of distributing relief supplies.
“So far, the government does not have an official report of a Kenyan that has died as a result of the hunger,” Dr Mutua told a news conference in Nairobi.
“We are asking anybody who has information of a confirmed death due to starvation to let us know; the government needs that information because it is very wrong for a Kenyan to die or starve whereas there is food in the country,” he asserted.
Dr Mutua confirmed that the government was in the process of changing its approach to relief operations that have failed to yield favourable results in the past.
“Currently the government does not lack food to feed the hungry; we have set aside Sh10.5 billion shillings to feed Kenyans.”
“The system that has been used in the past of transporting food to a central area then re-distributing it is not efficient. The government is changing this system and adopting more innovative ways of feeding hungry Kenyans,” he added.
Dr Mutua however confirmed that the government had received information about the death of refugees of Somali origin.
“The government is aware that we have Somali refugees who have died because of starvation; some of them arrived in the country too malnourished and could not survive.”
He reiterated that the government had not turned back any refugee seeking food and that they would feed the refugees without creation of a new refugee camp in Kenya.
“The Kenya government does not need more refugee camps to host the hungry… we need real humanitarian help to go to the hungry.”
“People are walking for up to 300 kilometres to get to food. Some cannot even make it and that is unacceptable,” he emphasised.
Just a day after Prime Minister Raila Odinga faulted the local media for “misrepresenting facts” about the government’s response in mitigating the impact of the prevailing drought, Dr Mutua also hit out at international journalists and non-governmental organizations that he said were exaggerating the drought situation.
“This is a matter of life and death not for sensational reporting; some of these kangaroo non-governmental organisations and some journalists based in Nairobi are just after getting money but are not portraying the real situation”
“Kenya has 38 million people and only four million are starving, some of the people who are writing you will find then eating pizzas and burgers in Nairobi when they are saying there isn’t food there,” he wondered.
The Kenyan media has already joined hands with the corporate sector to raise Sh500 million in the next four weeks for drought stricken Kenyans.
The initiative dubbed Kenyans4Kenya which was launched on Wednesday has brought together Media Owners Association, Safaricom and KCB foundations among other organisations.
Kenya Red Cross Society will manage the fund that will be used to purchase food relief to the drought stricken Kenyans.
Donations can be sent through the M-PESA Pay Bill number 111 111 at no charge or account number 11 33 33 33 38 at KCB.
Dr Mutua also warned that the government would deal firmly will all those individuals and cartels that await to benefit from the current drought crisis.