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Government declares drought a national disaster

President Uhuru Kenyatta called on all stakeholders to support the government by upscaling drought mitigation programmes/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 10 – The government has declared the current drought affecting 23 arid and semi-arid counties and pockets of other areas a national disaster.

Speaking after being briefed on the situation on the ground by Cabinet Secretaries involved in drought management and food security at State House Nairobi, President Uhuru Kenyatta called on all stakeholders to support the government by upscaling drought mitigation programmes.

He also called on the local and international partners to come in and support the government’s efforts to contain the situation which has not only affected human beings and livestock but also wild animals.

“Support from our partners would complement government’s efforts in mitigating the effects of drought,” said President Kenyatta.

He said the government would fast track and upscale its mitigation programmes to ensure the situation is properly contained.

The Head of State at the same time gave a stern warning to all who are involved in food distribution that the government would take serious measures on those who would try take advantage of the situation to enrich themselves.

“I will not tolerate anybody who would try to take advantage of this situation to defraud public funds,” said President Kenyatta.

He directed that all purchases of food and other requirements should be done in a transparent and open manner and that all government agencies be involved to ensure Kenyans are not defrauded.

“Let all investigative agencies including the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission get involved in the activities being undertaken during this period. I don’t want the government to be accused of taking advantage of this situation.”

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To stabilise the high prices of cereals, the government will allow maize importation by the licensed millers but will strictly monitor the situation to ensure it is done in a very transparent manner.

In phase two of drought intervention covering the months of February to April, the government has allocated Sh11 billion to carter for intervention in various sectors.

Already National Treasury has release the first tranche of Sh7.3 billion while the county governments have provided Sh2 billion.
The government intends to enhance the interventions including doubling of food rations and cash transfers among other measures.

Present were Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Cabinet Secretaries Henry Rotich (Treasury), Willy Bett (Agriculture and Livestock), Mwangi Kiunjuri (Devolution), Phyllis Kandie (Ministry of East African Community (EAC), Labour and Social Protection), Eugene Wamalwa (Water and Irrigation) and Principal Secretaries Richard Lesiyampe, Susan Mochache, Fred Sigor and Conservation Secretary Gideon Gathaara.

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