Safaricom Foundation has kicked off distribution of assorted relief food for vulnerable households affected by drought in Balambala and Lagdera sub counties in Garissa.
The distribution of the relief food is a response to President William Ruto’s call for the private sector to chip in and help the government in tackling the effects of drought which has left over 4.5 million Kenyans in need of relief food.
At least 372,000 people in Garissa have been affected by the drought and millions of their livestock dead.
Speaking during the distribution exercise in Balambala town, the foundation’s chairman Joseph Ogutu said that the food, which is meant for at least 2000 households is not only from Safaricom foundation, but also a collective effort from their partners in the private sector.
“The government saw a need to involve the private sector in helping the Kenyans affected by drought and so we have come together to see that Kenyans get enough food,” Ogutu said.
“I know there has been rains and Kenyans may harvest in the next two months but before then, we assure you that as private sector under Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) in collaboration with the government will ensure that no Kenyans sleeps hungry,” he added.
Ogutu encouraged the community to come up with proposals that can be implemented to bring long term solutions especially in agriculture to mitigate the effects of drought in the area so that in future, there would be no need for relief food.
The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) CEO Col. (Rtd) Hared Hassan said that the authority is working around the clock to address the drought, which was declared a national disaster last year by the then President Uhuru Kenyatta.
He said that NDMA is also doing the cash transfers under the Hunger Safety Net Programme to the most vulnerable households.
“The president has assured that no Kenyan should sleep without food and that is why he has formed a private sector committee to deal with the issues arising from drought so that we look for permanent solutions for both short term and long term,” Hassan said.
“We cannot be doing the same thing every year and expect a different result,” he added.
Garissa County Commissioner Boaz Cherutich said that together with the county government they will continue to mobilize more resources through the county steering group so that they can be prepared to handle drought situations in future.
“The Kenya Red Cross has done a profiling of the most vulnerable households in Garissa which as of now stands at 10,000. NDMA will start registering their details from tomorrow so that by January they can start receiving the cash transfers from January next year,” Cherutich said.
By Erick Kyalo