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Government to shift approach to drought, create permanent solutions – ASAL PS

State Department for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands Principal secretary Idris Dokota has said that the government is working to change policies and approach to drought in the country from responsive to prior planning so as to create permanent solutions to recurring droughts in the country.

Dokota said that the government will not keep on distributing relief food and water tracking year in year out, and that proper prior planning must be done so that good policies are created to sustain the people throughout dry seasons.

The PS who was speaking at Dukanotu Primary School in Tana River County during a relief food distribution exercise to drought affected persons said that the government will invest in water infrastructure by innovating ways of harvesting rainwater, construction of mega dams and drilling of boreholes.

“What we have been doing is responding to emergencies which is a short term plan while drought has been with us for years. The government is going to find a way on how to plan in advance to tackle drought situations so that we will not just wake up to respond to emergencies,” Dokota said.

“Our main problem has been lack of water. If we solve the water problem, we will have solved 60 per cent of the economic problems of our people,” he added.

The PS said that the government will be distributing 3,600 bags of rice and 2,000 bags of beans to all affected persons across all the sub counties of Tana River, adding that the government is also introducing a school feeding programme to make sure that all children who are supposed to be in schools remain in school.

Tana River County is at an alarming stage with at least 158,000 people in dire need of relief food while malnutrition rate for children is at 25 per cent.

Area Deputy Governor Mahat Loka on his part said that the county government is working closely with other government institutions and non-governmental organizations to help the vulnerable families and reduce the hunger pangs of their people.

Also present was Bura MP Yakub Adow, County commissioner Thomas Sankei, Tana River County Coordinator for the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) Abdi Musa among other officers.

Earlier this week, Defence Cabinet secretary Aden Duale while speaking in Garissa said that the government has so far spent Sh13 billion to buy and distribute relief food to Kenyans who have been affected by the drought and are in dire need of relief food.

The latest report by the Kenya food security steering group shows that the number of Kenyans affected by drought and hunger has gone up from 4.2 million to 6 million. The NDMA in its January 2023 bulletin paints a worrying picture in 23 counties that have been classified as either in the alarm or alert phase of the drought.

Counties on the alarm phase include Kilifi, Mandera Marsabit Samburu, Turkana Wajir, Isiolo, Kitui, and Kajiado, while 13 counties Garissa, Lamu, Narok, Tana River, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, Baringo, Laikipia, Meru, Taita Taveta, West Pokot, Nyeri and Kwale are in the alert drought phase.

By Erick Kyalo


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