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Red Cross heeds call to assist families experiencing famine 

The Kenya Red-Cross Society has rolled out food distribution in Marsabit County where 114, 942 people are facing food shortage owing to prolonged drought.

The society’s Secretary General Dr Asha Mohammed said that the Society was targeting 47,000 people who are in dire need of food aid assistance.

Speaking on Friday at the county government headquarters where 530 metric tons of an assortment of food stuff donated by the organization with the support from the Saudi Arabia Government, Dr Mohammed said the move followed an appeal by the Kenya Government early this month.

She disclosed that Red-Cross had also identified 15,000 families for cash transfer assistance instead of food in the most famine affected counties of Marsabit, Turkana and Mandera.

The official said market conditions allow beneficiaries to go for more pressing needs like health as opposed to the believe that they only required food assistance.

Dr Mohammed said the beneficiaries would be entitled to Sh5, 400 per month for a period of three months which she said would enable them to take care of priorities and maintain their self-worth as well. “Evidence has shown that cash assistance programmes can play a critical role in meeting immediate needs and enhancing economic recovery while promoting dignity,” she observed.

Truck loaded with relief food from the Kenya Red Cross Society for distribution to famine stricken families in Marsabit County. The society’s Secretary General Dr Asha Mohammed said the aid was a support from the Saudi Arabia government. Photo by Sebastian Miriti

Regarding water requirements, she said the organization has assessed and determined that there was need to rehabilitate critical water facilities like pans, earth dams and boreholes.

The secretary general noted that Covid-19 had diminished the resilience of the local communities with the drought and the desert locust invasion compounding the matter.

Dr Mohammed said that the society had already distributed food rations to about 6000 people in the most affected and remote areas of Marsabit like Illeret and Dukana adding that Red Cross would continue supporting both county and national government to respond to disasters.

“We believe that only concerted efforts by all stakeholders including both levels of government, the private sector and development partners will help secure livelihoods and reduce the suffering of our people,” she pointed out.

The number of people facing food insecurity in the northern region of Kenya currently stands at 1.4 million and the situation could get even worse as weather forecasts indicate that the expected long rains will fail.

The secretary general said the situation calls for urgent action in order to avert loss of lives. She thus called for concerted efforts by all stakeholders to address the challenge.

Marsabit Governor Mohamud Ali said the county has been experiencing drought since last year throwing food security initiatives that had been put into place into disarray.   Ali thanked the organization for heeding the appeal by the government to assist those faced with starvation.

The Governor said during the function which was also attended by local County Commissioner Paul Rotich and the County Women Representative Safia Adam that his administration had so far managed to attend to the needs of 3000 households of the most vulnerable across the county.

County Commissioner Rotich said that security measures were in place to ensure that the distribution of the relief food was done smoothly. He added that the distributing teams would be accorded security while patrols on the highways have been enhanced.

By Sebastian Miriti

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