At least 600,000 people in Meru County need relief food in the ongoing drought affecting the semi-arid regions of the County.
The number has increased from about 400,000 people who were in need of the same in the last two months and is set to rise even more as the drought worsens.
Speaking after chairing a County Steering Group Committee tasked with the management and distribution of relief food in the County, County Commissioner Fred Ndunga added that at least 39 schools were also adversely affected by the ongoing drought.
“The number of schools affected by the drought is more than 39 but we will soon be receiving the exact number from the director of education who is on the ground working on the same,” said Mr Ndunga.
He added that with the ongoing situation, the government will be forced to introduce school-feeding programmes to the affected schools to ensure learners remain in their classrooms to be at par with their peers in other parts of the country.
“The aim of the government is to ensure every child is in school and if we continue this way, we will be forced to introduce the school-feeding programme to have learners in school,” said Mr Ndunga.
He noted that some of the learners especially in lower classes were severely malnourished and would require special food to recover.
Mr. Ndunga added that the committee where MPs were also invited will ensure that every organisation dealing with relief food does so through them to enhance transparency and accountability in the distribution process.
“Through proper coordination, the committee will ensure that every affected person in this county was catered for in terms of food, water trucking and livestock feeds to ensure the right people benefitted,” said Mr. Ndunga.
He added: “Today’s meeting will ensure we get all the data on what we require in terms of food, water and livestock feeds after which we will write to the Special Programmes department for consideration.”
He said some of the sub-counties including Buuri East and West, and Tigania East and West had already received relief food.
“The food goes directly to the sub-counties where we have established a food distribution committee which is distributing it in order of prioritisation,” said Mr. Ndunga.
County Drought Coordinator Noor Godana said the situation in the county was set to worsen considering that the meteorological department had already warned of lower rainfall than usual.
“The low rainfall means we will still have poor harvest and farmers should consider fast-growing crops during this season,” said Mr. Godana.
County Agriculture Director Dionisia M’Eruaki said the County government will collaborate with the national government to ensure that no resident dies of hunger.
By Dickson Mwiti