NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 6 – Eleven lorries ferrying an assortment of relief food have been flagged off to drought stricken parts of the country in a bid to fight looming starvation, as the hunger crisis continues to bite.
This comes about a week after the National Drought Management Authority warned the government of the threat, saying that 11 counties with more than one million people were most at risk.
While releasing the food stuffs, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the government would continue working towards establishing long-term interventions like irrigation projects to mitigate similar crises in the future.
Several damming projects have been launched in various parts of the country and the Galana-Kulalu food security project, which is an irrigation scheme project, is also underway.
“We are also looking at other parts of the country; we are looking at Turkana, we are looking at Pokot, we are looking at Garissa, we are looking at other areas of Tana River, in parts of lower Murang’a and other parts that have great potential of irrigation in this country,” said President Kenyatta on Thursday.
The drought management authority had sounded warning bells on Samburu, Turkana, Garissa, Mandera, Wajir, Isiolo, Marsabit, West Pokot, Baringo, Tana River, and Lamu Counties.
And the government had promised to work with the authorities in these arid and semi-arid counties to prevent death but some, including that of an eight year old, have been recorded.
Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru added that another consignment of relief food will also be dispatched in the following week.
“It will be sent to Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Lamu, West Pokot and Laikipia Counties as part of the ongoing efforts to provide timely assistance to the people faced with hunger,” she said.
The Head of State added that the relief efforts would continue until the situation normalises noting that Sh4.3 billion had been allocated in the current financial year to help alleviate the effects of a potential drought.
“This includes an initial amount of Sh2 billion, which was allocated at the beginning of this financial year. Half of this was devolved to the Counties to enable them respond to emerging drought related challenges that they may face,” he explained.
“Last week, my Cabinet approved an additional Sh2.3 billion to cope with additional pressure that we are facing as a result of this drought.”
The drought is being blamed on the fact that the anticipated short rains in the months of October to December, 2013, failed to materialise as expected. Things are likely to get worse if the April 2014 long rains do not fall.