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4.1 million Kenyans in ASAL counties staring at starvation

About 4.1 million people are in need of food and other humanitarian assistance for the next four months in 9 counties affected by drought in Kenya.

Speaking during a County Steering Group (CSG) meeting Tuesday, the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rtd. Col. Hared Hassan said four counties of Marsabit, Wajir, Mandera and Samburu were at an emergency stage.

The CEO said that six other counties including Isiolo are on alert while 13 counties are in a normal drought situation.

Hassan said that due to four consecutive years of insufficient rains, over 4 million livestock have died in the 19 Counties leaving locals vulnerable and forcing livestock owners to be dependent on relief food from government and development actors.

The NDMA boss said that drought has also resulted in conflicts among the pastoral communities where several people have lost lives in competition for water and pastures while criminals have been taking advantage of the situation by stealing livestock.

He added that due to the drought, prices of food commodities had increased beyond the reach of many livestock owners whose economic mainstay had been livestock and could not fetch enough money to sustain their food needs.

Col. Hassan said that women are fetching water from sources that are 5 km to 16 km away hence wasting many hours in search of the commodity.

The NDMA CEO said that drought has not spared the Education, Water, Health, Agriculture and Livestock sectors, some of which are depending on water trucking by the government and development partners.

He appealed to partners, interfaith communities and the County Government to register with the local NDMA office and channel their resources to one basket to avoid duplication of activities and blame from the public.

The County Executive for Agriculture who chaired the meeting, Dr. Lawrence Mwongela said that the drought cycles have changed from previous three or four years noting they are now unpredictable.

Dr. Mwongela said that 55 per cent of revenue collections in Isiolo County Government come from the Tourist sector but since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic in 2019, the number of foreign visitors reduced by 75 per cent hence adversely affecting the sector and County’s revenue base.

The CECM said that revenue collection is still low since even the tourists feared to visit the area owing to frequent conflict among the local pastoralists.

By Abduba Mamo

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