The number of food-poor households in Meru County has been on an upward trend since July this year.
Chairing the county steering group meeting in his boardroom, County Commissioner, Fred Ndunga, said reports gathered from all the Sub-counties indicated that about 66,783 households holding an approximated population of 400,698 people, were in dire need of food supply and water as a matter of urgency.
Ndunga said the people in Sub-counties bordering Isiolo, Laikipia, and parts of Tharaka Nithi County were the most hit by the prevailing drought, saying some of the affected areas had not received adequate rainfall for the last three years.
He noted that with inadequate rainfall in consecutive years, the planted crops never manged to mature for harvesting, hence compromising food security at the household level and in the larger community.
The Administrator said the drought situation was far from being contained as it was worsening day by day, where both human and animal life was equally affected as there was no pasture and water in the affected areas.
‘Providing food and water to the population and their livestock has remained a challenge to the government and non-state players as rivers and other water sources have dried up.’ Ndunga said.
He however said all was not lost as the National and County Government officials had joined hands in fast-tracking urgent identification for prioritization of the neediest and deserving cases at the community level for purposes of directing the short-term interventions to save lives.
The Commissioner said in some Sub-counties, the National Government Administrative Officers had mobilized the business community to chip in and be able to feed the hungriest in their own small way, saying such gestures of generosity were worth being emulated across the county.
Ndunga said any food available was being directed to the hard-hit areas of Tigania West and East, Igembe North and Mutuati, Igembe Central and South along with Buuri East and West Sub-county, adding that the County’s Northern grazing areas had been dilapidated, especially with the livestock invasion from the neighbouring counties.
The County Boss said the National and County government had spearheaded an exercise of identifying for assessment and quantification of all players, claiming to be doing something in mitigation against the prevailing drought in the county to be able to contain any cartels likely to take advantage of the dire situation for personal interests and gains.
He, however, noted that no Sub-county in the region could be assumed to be food sufficient, adding that some seemingly stable Sub-counties were struggling with feeding people in the informal settlements, not forgetting that people with all forms of disabilities, the elderly, and child-headed families were in dire need of food supply across the County.
Ndunga commended the Red Cross and Ripples International team for taking the lead in support of what the government was able to supply, saying that such organizations had come in handy to ensure no life was lost due to lack of food and water at the household level.
The Administrator further appealed for more players to get on board in support of school feeding programs at all levels to enable learners to remain in school to completion of their courses.
By Makaa Margaret