Over 15, 000 households in 23 wards in Kitui County are in dire need of relief food popularly known locally as ‘Mwolyo’ to cushion them from hunger following the prolonged dry spell.
According to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) February 2019 report, the dry spell following depressed Oct-December rains has persisted, leading to depletion of household food reserves.
Residents in Mbukoni, Kawala, Makongo, Ngaaka and Imumbu in Kitui South said that the last planting season was worse. “We planted but due to poor rainfall patterns, the crops dried and we are now counting losses,” one of them said.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday in NgaakaYakwa-Kitui East, the residents said that they were in dire need of humanitarian support and called on both the national and county governments to look into their plight ahead of the delayed March-May long rains season.
However, residents were skeptical with the NDMA report that has given Kitui County a clean bill on food security, adding that Kitui has been receiving food aid as part of government interventions to curb the ravages of drought.
“There is nothing strange that has drastically occurred in Kitui County to change this narrative of dry spell. We need Mwolyo to support our livelihoods,” said a visibly agitated Tito King’oli.
King’oli lamented that the Oct-December rains were a total failure in Kitui County, adding that the farmers did not harvest anything.
“Right now, we have one borehole serving over 4, 000 households in Kavingo Sub-location. We jostle for the water daily. We have don’t engage in any other economic venture since our main worry is water for domestic use and livestock,” he said.
A resident, Doris Mutie said that the vulnerable people are mostly women and children, adding, “We depart from our homes around 3 am to trek 10 kilometers to this water point.”
Queen Kisiko lamented that food security in the future remains bleak for Kitui County with indications of further deterioration in food security situation as the dry spell progresses.
The NDMA report indicated that the up-scaling of current crop production improvement programmes such as the growing of cow peas, green grams, sorghum and millet will mitigate climate change challenges.
The report showed that Newcastle, associated with poultry, was reported across the livelihood zones while fowl pox was reported in Ngomeni, Tseikuru, Kanyangi, Mui and Mbitini wards whereby some households lost 100 percent of their birds.
“Pasture was poor in Tseikuru, Ngomeni, Kyuso, Tharaka, Nguni, Nuu, Endau/Malalani, Voo/Kyamatu, Kanziko, Mutha, Athi, Ikutha and parts of Kanyangi wards, read the report.
By Yobesh Onwong’a