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Appeal for aid as thousands experience famine in North Horr

An appeal has been made for food assistance to hundreds of famine-stricken families in North Horr Constituency of Marsabit County who are staring at starvation.

Leaders and stakeholders pointed out during a sub-county steering group (SCSG) meeting at Kalacha Township that 36,050 residents were experiencing an acute shortage of food following prolonged drought for five consecutive seasons.

The meeting which consisted of players from the national government, non-governmental organisations, the national drought management authority (NDMA) and the county government, described the situation the residents were in as dire and called for urgent intervention measures in order to avoid loss of life.

The Pastoralist Community Initiative Development Assistance (PACIDA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Patrick Katelo said the situation was bad as the communities had lost over 80 percent of their livestock to the severe drought while the few that survived were killed by floods and rainstorms that hit the region recently.

“The malnutrition levels have increased tremendously among locals as they do not have any source of food or income,” Mr Katelo said adding that lactating and expectant mothers, children and the elderly were the hardest hit.

The SCSG heard that there was a risk of an outbreak of waterborne diseases and malaria as well as rift valley fever, owing to the current rains and floods, which have been enhanced by rejuvenated seasonal rivers from the southern Ethiopian highlands.

Nominated member of Marsabit county assembly, Ms Darare Gonche, appealed to the government to mobilise resources and extend the needed assistance without delay.

She decried the bad state of roads which has left many areas inaccessible saying mothers seeking antenatal medical care cannot reach health facilities.

Marsabit North DCC Pius Njeru while chairing the meeting said that plans were underway to avail relief supplies for famine victims in the area.

Mr Njeru observed that the drought, which is a condition induced by climate change, has been made worse by the floods and the recent rift valley fever outbreak.

The DCC said the delayed relief food consignment for the months of March and April from the national government was being fast tracked and urged the non-state actors to consider reallocating the resources towards famine mitigation.

He also disclosed that plans for a livestock restocking programme aimed at enabling pastoralist communities to regain their source of livelihood were underway.

“The seed money for the restocking plan has been allocated and the beneficiaries will soon be buying small stock like sheep and goats to enable them to get back on their feet,” said the DCC.

A spot check by KNA of various villages in the constituency revealed a sorry state of affairs with many hunger victims saying they had stayed for days without anything to eat.

At Chille village in Kalacha division, 87-year-old Daracha Roba said he has never witnessed or heard of a devastating weather phenomenon as the prevailing one his entire life.

Appealing for food aid from the government and well-wishers, Mr Roba disclosed that he had only 3 goats and 2 camels out of 200 and 50 respectively before the devastating drought set in.

“The drought claimed my entire livestock herd of goats and camels save for 3 goats and 2 camels,” said the father of six while seated on a mattress spread on the floor.

“I sold one of the goats when the children came for the school holiday to buy them food but it is hardly enough because prices of food items here are exorbitantly high,” he moaned.

A survey in the transit town which is also the division headquarters failed to locate a single cereal dealer while stocks in shops are low as shopkeepers were no longer replenishing food items because the purchasing power of the residents has reduced.

By Sebastian Miriti

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