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No Kenyan will die of hunger, CS Kobia

At least 2.5 million Kenyans are in dire need of relief food after back to back seasons of rain failure, with the government assuring that no one will die of hunger.

Public Service, Gender, Social Protection, Arid, and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia said they are working with development partners, embassies and other like-minded individuals to come up with the necessary interventions to arrest the hunger situation in the country.

Speaking after flagging off the distribution of 340 tons of food supply from the Kuwait government in Thika town today, Prof Kobia said about 23 counties are extremely affected by the hunger, but assured that interventions have been put in place to mitigate the situation.

She said among the most affected counties are Marsabit, Turkana, Samburu, Wajir and Garissa.

“The government is doing a lot to respond to the challenges of drought. The number of those affected is high and that is why we continue to urge our development partners, NGOs and other friendly nations to intervene. We shall make sure no Kenyan will die of hunger,” she said.

Some of the government interventions, she said, include the release of Sh8.5 billion this month towards vulnerable families through the Inua Jamii programme.

Government has also released Sh400 million as bursaries to children in boarding schools especially in Form-one and who have not been able to pay their school fees because of poverty.

Another Sh13 million has been given towards nutrition to children in ASAL counties, CS Kobia said.

She further added that the Kenya Meat Commission has been given the necessary resources to undertake livestock offtake to reduce risks of livestock deaths because of the drought.

While urging residents to sell their livestock to reduce more deaths, the CS said the livestock will be slaughtered and distributed to locals as food.

She added that the government is also working to have resilient programmes to reduce perennial reliance on relief food in such areas.

Some of the programmes include drilling boreholes for irrigation, having a drought fund to help in interventions, putting up irrigation schemes, connecting residents to roads and electricity as well as having a  school feeding programme among learners in the ASAL.

On the distribution of the relief food, the CS said they will be on the ground to ensure the food is given in a manner respecting integrity.

“Only those affected are the ones who will get it so that the food does not go to the wrong hands,” she said.

Kuwait Ambassador to Kenya Qusai AL Farhan said the bond between the two countries is strong and that they will offer more assistance if needed.

He said the food will be distributed to 6,300 residents in ASALs and will take them over two months.

“The connection between the two countries is too strong. When President Uhuru Kenyatta appealed for food donations to help mitigate against drought, Kuwait did not hesitate to help,” he said.

Among the food items distributed include rice, cooking oil, maize, sugar and flour.

By Muoki Charles

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