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Drought mitigation Phase II programme set for next week

The government has earmarked a total of Sh450 million for second phase programme to mitigate drought in the 23 Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) Counties starting next week.

To date the government has reached at least 225,705 beneficiary households from the affected counties, through the Emerging Relief Cash Transfer which formed part of phase I programme launched in December, 2021 which was allocated the same amount of money.

The Principal Secretary (PS), State Department for Social Protection, Senior Citizens Affairs, and Special Programmes, Mr. Nelson Marwa said despite the challenges faced while delivering the Emerging Cash Transfer to mitigate drought in the country, the government has been able to distribute physical food stuff as an emergency intervention.

Principal Secretary State Department for Social Protection, Senior Citizens Affairs Special Programs Nelson Marwa (left) chats with Government Spokesperson Col.(Rtd) Cyrus Oguna at Telposta Towers on March 21, 2022, during a zoom meeting on status of drought in the country and the measures taken by the Government to protect its citizens from loss of human lives and animals. Photo by Bonface Malinda

“I can assure you no Kenyan has died of hunger, the coordination has been very successful with the national government partnering with the county governments to address the drought issue,” he said.

The PS was speaking Monday during the SemaNaSpox virtual weekly update on Government Interventions to Mitigate the Impact of Drought in the country hosted by the Government Spokesperson Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna and the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) Acting Director Saiyana Lembara, held at Media Centre, Telposta Towers.

He added that Kenyans from ASAL regions and other areas affected by drought including Kieni (Nyeri), Nyatike (Nyanza), Coastal region which included Taita Taveta among others have been relieved from food distress.

Marwa said the government has been using the ‘Buy Kenya Build Kenya’ slogan to buy food stuffs from unaffected counties like Mwea Irrigation Scheme and Kano Plains, where it bought rice and in Kitui where it purchased green grams to take to the drought stricken areas as relief food.

He said to ensure that resources reach the targeted group, the government has put in place three command centres to monitor the process, of which there has been no complaint.

The PS said the government is keen to see that in the future every county is self-reliant, reducing the number of people affected by drought and urged communities in the affected areas to take advantage of the drought situation to learn lessons and prepare well in future.

“Just to mention but a few, places like Katiru in Turkana and Todonyang’ are good examples of the government interventions that today they can do irrigation and produce their food despite the drought,” said the PS.

Marwa cited water trucking to provide water for livestock and domestic use and the off-take programme which aims to off-load very weak cattle from farmers at a fee as some of the government’s short-term interventions.

In his remarks, Lembara, said the government is putting more efforts to see that in five years to come, long term interventions are put into place.

He said bearing in mind that lack of moisture leads to chronic water shortage, the government is looking forward to having water reservoirs like big dams to store water for over three months.

The Ag. Director announced that the government is in the process of implementing strategies to improve adaptability during drought situations, mentioning borehole solarization as one of the strategies.

On infrastructure development, he said, the road network in Isiolo has improved, a move he said has enabled the residents in the area to save time while doing their businesses.

He listed other long-term interventions as sustainable livelihoods and Drought Risk Management for Early Warning System to aid in quick response.

“A lot of programmes are on-going to support people to understand more on nutrition, and also let them learn and understand climate change,” said Lembara, adding that NDMA is working with research firms to know what crops can adapt in certain areas and also the kind of breed of livestock to keep.

Col. Oguna said that the government has completed 40 per cent of the long-term interventions to mitigate drought in the country and that in future most of the Counties shall be independent.

“The government cannot stop drought, it can only mitigate the drought effects,” said Oguna and urged Kenyans to develop a water harvesting culture to avoid suffering during drought seasons.

The government spokesperson said Human Capital Development which entails health and education, as well as peace and security are also other intervention used to mitigate drought in the country

Oguna said although the media has been in the forefront informing the public on what is happening around, the media should also be consistent and update the public on the recovery process after the crisis.

By Catherine Muindi

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