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Kenya declares drought a national disaster in 29 counties

NAIROBI, Kenya Sep 8 – The government has declared drought that is ravaging parts of the country, a national disaster following a meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta with leaders from Kenya’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) on Wednesday.

President Kenyatta directed the National Treasury and the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government to spearhead mitigation measures.

The drought was declared in 29 counties classified under the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) where food insecurity has been experienced in recent months due to lack of consistent rains.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared the drought affecting parts of the country a national disaster,” State House Spokeswoman Kanze Dena said in a statement.

Counties classified as ASAL include Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Kitui, Machakos, Makueni, Turkana, West Pokot, Samburu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, Laikipia, Narok, Kajiado, Nyeri, Tharaka Nithi, Meru, Embu, Migori, Homa Bay, Nakuru and Kiambu.

She said President Kenyatta had directed the two ministries to spearhead Government efforts to assist affected households including water and relief food distribution as well as livestock uptake.

This comes after weeks of continuous calls by leaders from the affected areas asking President Kenyatta to declare the situation a national disaster to pave way for a more robust mitigation measure.

Last week, a section of governors appealed to President Kenyatta to declare the famine in ASAL areas a national disaster, in a meeting with the UN Resident Coordinator Stephen Jackson. The meeting was held to discuss mitigation for the ongoing drought in the northern Kenya.

The governors drawn from the Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC), called for livelihood support, including the distribution of relief food to the most vulnerable and cash transfer programmes.

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On Tuesday, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa stated that at least 2 million Kenyans from 10 counties have been hard hit by the ongoing drought, during his tour to Garissa.

The CS who was in the county to assess the drought situation stated that the government was working with other agencies to assist the affected Kenyans.

Wamalwa said that the government was focused on enhancing access to water to residents across the country especially those in areas that have been badly hit.

“This Are the people that we are targeting to ensure they have clean water through the water tracking program we have started and also ensure that their animals get feeds. Through the Cash transfer programs we will be able to improve livelihoods of those affected,” he said.

The CS stated that so far, no human life has been lost due to drought adding that the government will expand the hunger Safety Net Programs to cover other affected counties including Garissa, Tana River, Isiolo and Samburu.

The ASALs make up to 89% of the Country with approximately 38% of Kenya’s Population. The ASAL regions host 70% of the National Livestock herd with an estimated value of Ksh.70 billion, but the residents are now staring at a bleak future due to the ongoing drought.

According to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) drought report for July 2021, twelve (12) counties of Marsabit, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Kilifi, Tana River, Lamu, Samburu, Kitui, Lamu, Isiolo and Laikipia are in the alert drought phase, while eleven (11) counties including Nyeri (Kieni), West Pokot, Baringo, Embu, Kajiado, Kwale, Meru, Narok, Taita Taveta, Tharaka Nithi, and Makueni are in Normal drought phase.

The worst affected counties are Turkana, Garissa, Wajir and Marsabit counties.

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