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70,000 families in Kieni in dire need of relief food

More than 70,000 families living in Kieni are still in need of relief food, Nyeri County National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) Coordinator Lordman Lekalkul has disclosed.

The revelation sounds ironic considering the heavy rains that have been pounding from the last three weeks.

But Lekalkul said even with the onset of the long rains, families that were benefitting from relief food from the State will need to be assisted until such a time when crops in their pieces of land grow into fruition.

He said the Government did dispatch 200 sacks of rice and beans to the area last week, but was quick to add that the consignment was barely enough to reach all the families currently in need of food provision.

“People residing in areas that had borne the brunt of the recent dry spell especially in Kieni are not yet out of the woods even with the onset of the rainy season. At the moment 200,000 families in Nyeri are still in need of food from the State and we are still waiting for new consignment to be delivered before we can respond to this need. It should also be known that the onset of rains was never going to be a quick fix to the problem of food scarcity in the country since crops will have to take time before they can be harvested,” he said.

Kieni East and Kieni West constituencies were among areas that were hit hard by drought in Nyeri, since last year, leaving at least 200,000 families fully dependent on relief food.

Other areas that were also affected by the drought included Mathira East and Mathira West.

Late last month, the Government in conjunction with the European Union donated 1,120 bags of animal feed to livestock farmers in Kieni constituency in a bid to boost dairy production in the area.

The feeds were part of 5,040 bags that the NDMA had requisitioned to support the farmers in Kieni East and Kieni West sub-county, during the drought season.

Speaking during the flagging off ceremony on March 30, Lekalkuli had noted that despite the advent of the long rains, the total number of livestock in need of supplementary feed stood at 30,000, out of which 5,000 have been lined up for sale through the government livestock off-take programme.

“Each of the sub-counties will receive 560 bags of pellets which are packaged in 50 kilogram bags. The donations are a big boost for the livestock because the pasture situation has improved a bit with the ongoing rains, but the livestock are still weak so the pellets will sustain them for some time,” the NDMA official had said.

He also pointed out that the overall drought situation had affected 85 per cent of the county, adding that Nyeri was still at the alert phase, with over 200,000 people in need of humanitarian support.

He said that the authority had identified Mukurwe-ini, Mathira East, Mathira West and Karima in Othaya as new areas that had joined the list of the most affected by the drought.

Humanitarian partners had estimated there will be 6.4 million people in need of relief food assistance this year in the ASALs region of Kenya.

It is also reported that at least 4.35 million people were going to bed hungry and about 5 million people could not access enough water for drinking, cooking and cleaning.

Families were taking desperate measures to survive, including fleeing their homes in search of sustenance and the risks faced by women and girls have risen sharply since the drought began.

There were also reports of children dropping out of school and increase in child marriages cases as the country was grappling with her one of the worst droughts in more than 40 years.

The United Nations and humanitarian partners in Kenya had appealed for $472.6 million to help feed 4.3 million drought affected people this year alone.

By Samuel Maina

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