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Over 60% of Yatta residents facing starvation

More than 60 per cent of Yatta residents, Machakos County representing over 100,000 people are facing starvation occasioned by the ongoing drought, area MP Robert Basil has said.

The area, despite being among the driest in the County, has gone for several years without meaningful harvests. Residents can hardly receive relief food as it is not classified as arid and semi-arid.

Addressing journalists in Thika, the first time MP said water sources have dried up and residents have to walk for several kilometers to fetch water in the heavily polluted River Athi or Tana River which pass across the Sub County.

“The situation is worrying. More than 100,000 people are starving. Water availability is also a challenge. It is also regrettable that Yatta is not categorized as an Arid and Semi-arid region so that they can benefit from relief food,” said the MP.

Basil termed the situation as dire, with little being done to cushion residents against the biting hunger and water problems.

He said he will push forward to make sure the sub county is integrated into the ASAL, so that they can get support to take them through during times of humanitarian crisis.

He called on the national and county governments to come up with a contingency plan to ensure hunger-stricken families get food and water.

The MP also asked local non-governmental organizations to scale up their support and prioritize mitigating the effects on drought.

At the same time, Basil said he was working on a programme with partners, with a view to tapping water from the two rivers and irrigate the area so as to free residents from hunger, adding that it would revolutionize farming and make the area food sufficient for domestic use and exports.

He said farmers have been failing due to their overreliance on rain fed agriculture.

“We shall tap the rivers, pipe water into the farms and empower the farmers to make them resilient to feed themselves. We can’t be starving yet the two major rivers in the country pass through the Sub County. We shall unlock that potential and make the area food secure,” said Basil.

By Muoki Charles

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