The Turkana County administration has absolved itself from accusations that it was not doing enough to cushion residents from the ongoing drought.
While addressing the press in Lodwar Governor Josphat Nanok said the county government has provided humanitarian supplies amounting to 2,500 metric tonnes equivalent to 36,000 (50kg) bags of cereals, 10,000 (50kg) of beans and 10,000 (20-liters) of cooking oil.
He said the distribution of the relief rations started on February 28 this year and is expected to reach 805,000 residents who are under food stress adding that already 70 percent of the affected population have been reached.
“Food has been delivered and distribution is ongoing to reach 576,000 people which comprises 70 percent of the population,” said Nanok.
He added that the county government allocated Sh 200 million for relief food and an additional Sh 150 million as emergency fund which it might be forced to spend if the current drought situation persists.
Nanok said the county might be forced to adjust its development budget to address the biting drought as it did in 2017.
While appealing for support from other organisations, Nanok was non-committal on claims that people have died as a result of the drought saying he does not have any reports from the county health records or other teams working in the county of any deaths.
“We have no confirmation of deaths from records we have from the health team or sub county teams. We first got the information from the media, we don’t doubt it but we are stepping up our humanitarian support,” said Nanok.
However the governor said that livestock has succumbed to the drought but did not give the exact figures of the livestock loss citing the vastness of the county saying it would take time to count.
He added that 30,000 people have moved to neighbouring Uganda in search of water and pasture.
Nanok said the worsening drought has caused conflicts as pastoralists communities move near the borders where the areas have pasture.
He said losses of lives as a result of conflict normally go unreported.
Locust infestation has also depleted the green shrubs and pastures adding to woes that livestock are undergoing.
The current drought situation affecting the county is at alert stage but in Turkana West and Kibish sub counties it is at alarm stage according to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA).
“The drought situation has necessitated humanitarian intervention and if the normal rains which are expected between March and May fail then it means another six months of drier season,” he said.
The situation has been exacerbated given the fact that 90 percent of the county depends on pastoralism.
Water scarcity and drying up of existing water sources has also been witnessed.
Besides the relief food distribution, the Governor said the County Government was undertaking additional interventions including provision of supplementary food, screening cases, vaccination, treatment, drug provisions in all the health centres in the county.
He added that investment in health sector will boost efforts to monitor and prevent cases of acute malnutrition among children.
Additionally, he said the county was supplying water through water bowsers to drought hotspots in Loroo, Nalapatui, Namorkirionok in Turkana West; Naduat, Lokapelpus in Turkana North, Lopii in Turkana East and Nasiger and Kopoe in Loima sub-county.
To address the locust infestation that threatens to destroy vegetation in the county, Governor Nanok announced that the County Government had procured 3000 litres of locust chemicals adding spraying will begin next week.
By Peter Gitonga