The National Government in conjunction with the Kenya Red Cross and the County Government of Kilifi has launched a livestock off-take programme in famine-stricken areas of Kilifi County.
About 500 animals are targeted for slaughter and their meat will be distributed to families that have been affected by the famine occasioned by a prolonged dry spell in many parts of the county.
Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro officially launched the off-take programme alongside a relief food distribution exercise targeting about 150,000 Kilifi residents who have been severely affected by the drought.
The livestock off-take programme and the national relief food distribution exercise are part the interventions of President William Ruto’s administration in response to the disaster in which about 4.3 million Kenyans in 29 counties are threatened with starvation.
Kilifi County has so far received 5,000 bags of rice, 800 bags of beans, 600 cartons of cooking oil, according to Mr. Marjan Ramadhan, a member of the Kenya Red Cross Society’s Programme Standing Committee.
Speaking in Bamba area of Ganze Sub County, Mr. Ramadhan said the Kenya Red Cross is the lead coordinator of the livestock off-take programme in which the government seeks to buy animals from livestock farmers, slaughter them and distribute the meat to identified families.
“The government will buy and slaughter 500 animals from local livestock keepers and distribute the meat to famine-stricken families,” he said adding that the government had promised to provide more funding to mitigate the effects of the drought.
He said the Kenya Red Cross was providing relief food to more than 3,000 families out of the about 150,000 families and called on donors to partner with the government to help those affected by the disaster.
Mung’aro urged the National Government to consider building the Rare Dam in its proposed programme of constructing 100 dams in the country in order to enable farmers to carry out irrigated agriculture and stop over-reliance on rainfed agriculture.
He said the County Executive Committee would this week submit a supplementary budget to the County Assembly to reallocate funds to various drought mitigation programmes among them the purchase of excavators to be used to set up dams and water pans.
Ganze Member of Parliament Kenneth Kazungu Tungule urged the National Government to build two dams in the constituency in its plan to build two dams country-wide.
“Kajiri, Kafuloni and Rare seasonal rivers get a lot of water during rainy seasons and constructing dams across them will help a great deal in storing the water instead of letting it flow to the ocean,” he said.
Ganze residents who spoke to journalists narrated how the drought situation had forced them into destitution and called for a lasting solution.
Dhahau Mtoi a resident of Bamba said the area had been so scorched to an extent that cattle, which usually eat grass, had resorted to eating tree leaves like goats.
Mtoi said he had lost four head of cattle and expressed joy that his remaining three had been bought under the off-take programme. He however wondered whether the programme was sustainable.
He lamented that some residents were staying without food for as long as three days and that many children had been forced to drop out of school due to hunger.
Kahindi Tethe said the drought situation was worsening each day for both humans and animals, especially goats, which were dying after feeding on the leaves of cactus trees.
By Emmanuel Masha