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Health official calls for a blanket feeding programme in Turkana East

Acting Chief Officer Turkana County Department of Health Dr. Gilchrist Lokoel has appealed to partners and governments to marshal resources for a feeding program to save Turkana East residents from starvation.

The call follows an assessment carried out on Thursday by the Ministry in Kangitit Sub-location in Turkana East Sub-County, where the Ministry and partners have been running a supplementary feeding program among the most vulnerable people including children, the elderly, pregnant and lactating mothers.

Speaking in several hotspots in Kangitit and Morulem, Lokoel who led health and Kenya Red Cross teams to assess the situation said that supplementary feeding is not enough as drought has affected all the residents.

“The people who had been on the therapeutic feeding program, had been sharing the food with the rest of the households, due to lack of food, making it difficult for the targeted individuals to fully recover from malnutrition,” he said.

An assessment of children under the therapeutic supplementary feeding program revealed a dire need for a generalized feeding program, as sampled kids in villages showed slow sign of recovery, despite the feeding program.

Residents in all the villages exhibit a disturbing situation that need urgent intervention.

Lokoel also said that hunger has also been aggravated more by insecurity in several areas, making people congregate in villages with nothing to eat, having lost all their livestock to banditry.

He said the fact-finding mission will come up with a report to be presented to the County Steering Group for intervention to avoid hunger related deaths in the area.

The Chief Officer added that the most important is to secure the households with food, which needs urgent blanket feeding other than on targeted vulnerability as the whole community is facing severe malnutrition.

Acting Director for Administration in the Ministry Joyce Illikwel said that a long term solution to the recurrent drought is for County Government and partners to employ modern technology to irrigate large scale farms, construct dams and make use of underground water to ensure a food secure Turkana.

Acting Director Medical Services Yvonne Musa said that the County Government should seek more aid from outside the County to support the whole community of Turkana as the drought situation continues to bite.

This was echoed by the County Nutrition Coordinator Cynthia Lokidor, who urged the County Government to increase its food ratio per household, as well as Kenya Red Cross expanding its list of cash transfer to cover other residents in the area.

KRC is among other humanitarian organizations that carry out the cash transfer program that help to augment relief food.

Program Officer Kenya Red Cross Society Daniel Lagat said that more partners should be brought on board to salvage the situation which has affected both farmers and pastoralists.

The situation has also been attributed to lack of rains and diminishing flow of River Kerio for irrigation in Lotubae, Morulem areas and infestation of ‘Mathenge’ plant that has colonized farms.

Although the entire Sub-County has been affected, the team sampled Apachole, Lotapae and Lokwar villages for the assessment, where most children on therapeutic supplementary feeding indicated slow recovery, due to lack of major food components in the households.

During the assessment, the Acting Chief Officer Lokoel was accompanied by health specialists in the Ministry, including Deputy Director Monitoring and Evaluation Sarah Esinyen, Deputy Director Family Health Unit Gabriel Lopodo Ekal, Head of Partnerships Nancy Nyanga, Turkana East Sub-County MoH Moses Elim, TE Sub-County Public Health Officer Rapando Lumbasi among other staff.

The Red Cross team included Project Assistant Grace Oginjo and Project Officer GBV Emily Gideon. Assistant Chief of Kangitit Sub-location Benedictus Lokol was also present.

By Peter Gitonga

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