The Deputy President has revealed that over 3.5 million Kenyans are currently in dire need of food due to the ongoing severe drought in the country.
Rigathi Gachagua said the figure includes about 1 million children below five years and over 100, 000 expectant mothers.
The DP who was speaking on Monday during World Food Day at Rombo Division, Kajiado County further pointed out that 24 counties have been affected by drought, with 11 of them being at the state of alarm.
Gachagua observed that the government has streamlined relief food distribution which is ongoing, adding that the immediate intervention to alleviate suffering to families is by setting aside over Sh900 million.
He further added that plans are underway to distribute 90, 000 bags of rice and 100, 000 bags of beans.
He said the government has identified agriculture as a dominant pillar for social and economic transformation hence need for transformative changes in agriculture that will cushion the country from severe effects of climatic changes.
Gachagua said the government is geared towards meeting World Food Day theme for this year which is better production, better nutrition, better environment and better lives without leaving anyone behind.
He said the nation must move away from reliance on rain fed agriculture and diversify production as well as embracing drought resistance crops as means of cushioning against drought.
The deputy president said so far, they have provided Sh3.5 billion for 1.4 million bags of fertilizer towards fertilizer subsidy for the anticipated short rains.
Due to climate change, Gachagua said the nation has suffered depressed rain for four continuous seasons and due to this, the government has put in place adaptive programmes so as to manage risks, for instance, the government has set aside Sh3 billion under government crop insurance program towards management of risks and losses to farmers which has so far covered 1.3 farmers in seven counties.
Gachagua appreciated all the development and donor partners for partnering with the government in cushioning Kenyans against the prevailing drought.
Cabinet Secretary (CS) Public Service Prof. Margaret Kobia who graced the event appreciated the current government for embracing working the spirit of working together with everybody adding that all elected leaders have been elected for one purpose of serving Kenyans. The CS also lauded the government for streamlining provision of relief food.
She appreciated the new innovations in agriculture showcased by innovators during this year’s World Food Day urging the innovators to scale up these innovations to the grassroots level.
On his part, Governor of Kajiado County Joseph Ole Lenku appreciated the government for relief food being distributed. The governor however noted that more help is needed to cater for more families in need.
Lenku also appreciated President William Ruto for considering Maa community in his government citing the recent appointment of Katoo Ole Metito as State House comptroller.
The event had brought together key players in food production such Food and Agriculture Organization, World Food Programme, IFAD among other key players.
By Kimani Tirus and Kaaka Koromo