A section of residents and local leaders in Turkana County that is currently experiencing a devastating drought have opposed the state’s bid, through the Ministry of Devolution, to phase out relief food as a primary intervention mechanism and opt for cash transfer to the affected victims.
Ms. Jane Emekwi from Nawountos village along the border of Kenya and Uganda said that due to remoteness of their villages, many villagers with cash or goats to offer in exchange for food can’t access enough food as even shops have limited stock due to insecurity.
“Our shops are not reliable. Relief food from county government, national government, relief agencies is what sustains majority of us because they are brought to us,” Ms. Emekwi said.
Due to high cost of transport, she said, shop keepers also hike prices to get higher profits.
She added that if they get cash, they are likely to divert to other needs with lesser money allocated to buying food and food vulnerability will not be sorted out.
While launching a joint Taskforce that will create a digital platform to offer relief assistance to needy Kenyans in form of cash, CS Eugene Wamalwa said that it has been costly to deliver relief to affected victims.
Nanaam Member of County Assembly Cosmas Longor said most drought victims in Turkana are pastoralists who migrate in search of water and pasture and settling near shops is least of their concerns.
He said that even accessing the money is a challenge due to remoteness of many villages.
County Disaster Management Executive Esther Lokwei said if proper visibility study is not done the programme will fail.
Ms. Lokwei said that cash transfer programmes have been conducted in Turkana, but the challenge has been how much can comfortably sustain a vulnerable family.
At the moment 2.3 billion people are affected by drought in 23 counties with devolved unit stating that at least 608,000 locals currently rely on relief food.
By Peter Gitonga