The Government through the Northern Water Works Development Agency (NWWDA) has started distributing fuel subsidies for use at all boreholes in the region to help communities who have lost their livestock and livelihood access uninterrupted water supply.
Speaking during the flagging off of 26,800 litres of fuel for borehole generators in Garissa County, the agency’s Board Chairman, Shaban Ali Isaack, said that the exercise is part of the government’s effort to cushion communities from the ongoing drought.
Ali noted that pastoralists had lost the livestock and could not afford to pay for water at the borehole sites.
He said that the exercise will cost about Sh100 million in all the six targeted counties of Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Samburu, Marsabit and Isiolo.
“Considering the boreholes we have in these counties, this money is not enough and so we are asking County Governments and National Drought Management Authority to increase their efforts and make sure that our people get sufficient water supply,” Ali said.
Garissa County Commissioner, Boaz Cherutich, assured the residents that chiefs and assistant chiefs will work closely with boreholes management committees to ensure that no drop of fuel is lost.
Cherutich further said that the government will provide security for lorries supplying the fuel to far flung areas so that it can reach the people as soon as possible.
He cautioned the committees against selling or looting the fuel for their own benefits at the cost of the needy citizens residing in those areas.
“We expect that once this fuel reaches the boreholes, the committees in charge will provide water for free until it is fully utilized,” Cherutich warned.
“We are also going to ask for reports on how the subsidies were utilized,” he added
This comes days after Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, Cabinet Secretary, Margaret Kobia, said that Kenyans in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) will receive a stipend instead of food rations as before.
Kobia noted that the shift in policy is intended to increase efficiency and accountability and that the cash transfers will target 369,000 vulnerable households and 734,119 individuals, and will be disbursed every two months.
The CS said the National Government has provided over Sh1.5 billion as part of the measures to assist affected households with food and other commodities.
“The Government has provided Sh1.2 billion for purchase and distribution of food to 2.5 million people in 23 ASAL counties from October. It has also disbursed Sh450 million to Kenya Defence Forces for livestock off-take, purchase and distribution of livestock feed,” said Prof Kobia.
About Sh350 million was allocated to the Ministry of Water and Sanitation for water trucking and Sh500 million was given to National Disaster Management Authority for drought emergency response in non-food interventions. Prof Kobia said 12 counties are now on the verge of sliding from alert to alarm phase, among them Garissa, Isiolo, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Tana River, Turkana and Wajir.
By Erick Kyalo