NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 23 – The government is set to spend at leastSh 3.8 billion in its fourth phase of drought response to cushion an estimated 3.4 million Kenyans, mostly in Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties against hunger.
The Cabinet Secretary in charge of Devolution and ASAL areas, Eugene Wamalwa, said during a news conference on Friday that Sh2.5 billion has been allocated for relief food and cash transfers for the phase covering the months on February, March, and April.
Hardest hit ASAL counties include Garissa, Wajir, Isiolo, Tana River, Kajiado and Kilifi which remain under the drought alarm phase with Mandera, Marsabit, Kitui, and Taita Taveta witnessing medium drought stress.
Sh619 million will be spent on livestock offtake, purchase of feeds, disease surveillance and control with another Sh306 million set aside for water trucking and maintenance of boreholes in ASAL counties.
Also set aside is S100 million for health and nutrition, including food supplements.
The education sector in affected areas will be allocated Sh114 million for food, hygiene, and sanitation.
Sh85 million will be availed for the sourcing of farm inputs ahead of long rains in agriculturally viable areas.
Sh37 million will be used for coordination of drought response in affected counties and sub-counties.
“The government has a focused response program to address the drought situation and we will not relent in terms of interventions as the drought persists,” CS Wamalwa said during the press conference also attended by the ministry’s Chief Administrative Secretary Hussein Dado and Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) Secretary General Abbas Gullet.
He said the ministry was working closely with other State and non-state agencies in a bid to manage the prevailing drought situation.
“We are working with the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) that has put very clear early warning systems so that we’re able to tell where exactly the situation is severe so that the intervention plans are informed by the prevailing situation on the ground,” Wamalawa remarked.
The CS said most foodstuffs will be locally sourced in a move aimed at empowering local farmers economically.
In the first drought intervention phase in November 2016, the government released Sh 5.4 billion for the provision of water, health, nutrition, as well as cash transfers until January 2017.
Between January and April 2017 which coincided with the government’s declaration of drought as a national disaster in February, Sh7.4 billion was released out of a target of Sh11.6 billion.
Sh4.2 billion was released to cater for the third phase covering the months of September, October, November, and December 2017.
The announcement by Wamalwa on Friday came on the backdrop of an appeal for Sh1.044 billion by the KRCS to support its 2018 drought response and recovery program which is projected to reach some 1.3 million people in ASAL counties.
“We’ve increased the number of targeted population to 1,373,294 people in order to support more families affected by the drought crisis in Kenya,” KRCS’s Gullet said while launching the appeal on Thursday.
The ministry of devolution and ASAL areas has denied reports that the ongoing drought could have led to the loss of lives in some parts of the country.
The ministry’s CAS, Dado, said drought response in areas like Baringo could be impeded by escalating conflicts.