Some 26,000 households in Kwale County are set to benefit from relief food supplies in a bid to cushion them from famine.
The relief food which comprises of maize, beans, rice and cooking oil is part of the government’s initiative to avert the food crisis currently being experienced in the county.
The assorted food items that arrived in the County Headquarters is set for distribution tomorrow in Kinango Sub-County in an exercise to be supervised by Kwale County Commissioner (CC), Gideon Oyagi, and Government Spokesperson, Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna.
Oyagi told KNA that the relief food will be dispensed based on needs assessment especially to the vulnerable members of the community such as widows, the elderly, orphans, and those with completely no alternative to keep food on the table.
He said the drought has seriously ravaged Kinango, Lunga Lunga, and Matuga Sub-Counties with both agricultural and livestock keeping activities put in limbo. Kwale County is among the 23 counties currently facing intense drought.
Oyagi said the drought has caused havoc that needs immediate intervention before it can result in starvation and death. He added that the government is keen on ensuring that its citizens have safe and watertight intervention mechanisms in place to avert humanitarian disaster.
“The Government is doing what it can to ensure that everyone in the county has access to food. We have mobilized resources to ensure that we don’t lose a single life to drought,” Oyagi said.
The CC noted that several stakeholders such as the Kenya Red Cross Society and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are setting up plans to deal with the scary situation faced by the Arid and Semi-Arid counties.
FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.
The organization is currently rolling out a program that will see over 1000 families struggling with hunger get a monthly stipend of Sh1000 to help them put food on the table.
The Government is advocating for the cash transfer program over the supply of relief food to the most affected counties to avoid misuse and mismanagement of relief food during purchase, storage and distribution.
The administrator called for concerted effort from stakeholders involved in humanitarian food assistance to adequately tackle the food crisis.
The CC noted that the Kenya Red Cross Society is preparing to roll out the cash transfer and livestock off take program across the three sub-counties most affected by the drought.
“All these interventions are to help the residents have access to food and we are working closely with other partners to ensure that we get a lot of support for the people” said Oyagi.
He said Kenya Red Cross Society will execute the livestock off takes program in partnership with Kenya Meat Commission.
Kinango and Lunga Lunga Sub-Counties are rich in livestock farming but the drought has swallowed almost 70% of the herds putting over 130,000 residents at risk.
The livestock off take program by the Kenya Red Cross will see livestock keepers take their animals to the market and avoid further losses resulting from a scarcity of pasture and water.
Pastoralists in the three sub-counties have suffered for almost 7 months after almost 90% of the water sources dried up. Oyagi assured the residents from the affected sub-counties that the food distribution exercise will be done expeditiously and in a transparent manner.
He said those who will benefit from the first exercise will not benefit from the second exercise and that is to ensure that all vulnerable families are reached with assistance.
“We have instructed village elders to provide the names of those people who are in dire need. I am told there have been cases of people being favored and such habits won’t be tolerated anymore” Oyagi said.
Oyagi hailed the County Government of Kwale for the water tracking programs which has helped thousands of households have access to clean water.
The County Government recently procured three water boozes to aid its mission of supplying water to the residents and their livestock.
The Meteorological Department is projecting a glaring picture to the county as their forecasts indicate the county will receive rainfall in March 2022 during the long rainy season.
The CC noted that some schools in the county are seriously affected by the drought with high numbers of absentees being reported.
Oyagi added that educational officials are on the ground accessing the situation and that quick action will be taken to solve the problem.
“Every child has the right to education and once we have the report on the affected schools, we shall be able to send water tanks and relief food to help students remain in school” he said.
By Raymond Zaka and Hussein Abdullahi