The government has announced elaborate measures to cushion Kenyans in ASAL regions who are faced with starvation.
Speaking in Bura East Sub County, Garissa County where he flagged off relief food for Galmagala and Mansabubu locations, Government spokesperson Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna said that the number of Kenyans in dire need of relief food now stands at 2.8 million.
Oguna said that the ongoing relief food distribution in 23 ASAL counties is a stopgap measure to ensure that no Kenyan loses his or her life due to the biting drought.
The government spokesperson said that ongoing relief distribution will run alongside the cash transfers, the Hunger safety net and livestock offtake programmes whose sole aim is to ensure that no Kenyan loses his or her life because of the drought.
He noted the relief food distribution is a complementary effort to the cash transfer programme for those who have challenges with their mobile phones and network issues.
“For those who do not have mobile phones or in areas with low network coverage, the NGAO officers will coordinate to reach them and make sure they receive relief food as they wait to receive the cash transfers from the government,” Oguna assured.
Oguna said that so far, the government has distributed 55,000 bags of rice, 42,000 bags of beans and 220 cartons of canned meat to vulnerable households in the affected counties.
“Today, the government is distributing 500 bags of rice and 400 bags of beans to households in Bura East. We want to be clear that this food is for the vulnerable families, if you can afford food, let those who cannot afford benefit,” Oguna said.
“The food we are distributing is purchased locally to ensure that there is growth and circulation of money in our economy,” he added.
He said that the government is working on resilience programmes to ensure that in the future, the citizens in drought prone areas will be able to sustain themselves.
“What we are currently doing is an emergency response and it is not the government’s plan to distribute food every year. Plans are underway to develop sustainable programmes to make sure that every time there is drought, citizens can be able to feed themselves,” Oguna said.
To cushion livestock farmers from losing their livestock, Oguna said that the government in collaboration with other partners has been distributing animal food pellets to farmers and buying the weak livestock through Kenya Meat Commission.
Garissa County Commissioner Boaz Cherutich urged the chiefs and food distribution committees to ensure that only the vulnerable families get the food.
Cherutich asked the residents to be keen and report any misuse of the relief food. “We shall act tough on those found to have diverted the relief food, “he said.
Some 34,000 households in Garissa have each received Sh 3,000 in the cash transfers totaling to over Sh 102 million.
The county commissioner said that 9,252 households in Garissa County will benefit from the Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) where each household will receive Sh 5,400 after every two months.
The HSNP that was first piloted in Mandera, Wajir, Turkana and Marsabit since 2009 has been expanded to cover Garissa, Isiolo, Tana River and Samburu counties.
By Erick Kyalo