The national government will re-allocate part of development funds to mitigate the effects of the current drought, Defense CS Aden Duale has said.
Speaking in Shimbirey, Balambala sub-county Saturday when he launched relief food distribution for Garissa County, Duale said the country was experiencing one of its worst drought in decades and the government was stepping up measures to ensure that no Kenyan dies of hunger.
According to the Government, 4.3 million Kenyans are in dire need of food assistance. Of these, 3.1 million people are in the crisis phase and 1.2 million are at the emergency stage.
Meanwhile, the number of counties now affected by the ravaging drought has risen from 24 to 29 counties.
Duale said that the government is now prioritizing drought mitigation measures and funds meant for development would be slashed to carter for relief emergency programmes.
“The current droughty calls for emergency intervention programmes and that is why we shall be re-allocating part of the development budget towards saving lives and animals for our people,” Duale said.
“As a country, we are experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades after rains failed in the last three successive years. Our people are starring at starvation. Our livestock farmers have their animals in thousands. This call for extra ordinary measures from the government,” he added.
The immediate former Garissa Township MP further noted that the government, through the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC), would enhance animal off-take programme to save livestock farmers from further losing their animals.
The programme will see the government buy over 7 million animals that will be slaughtered, packaged and distributed to famine stricken families, boarding schools and lactating mothers.
Duale who also thanked the donor community for their support called on ASAL counties to also step up their effort by allocating more resources towards assisting drought victims.
Marsabit, one of the worst hit counties, has suspended all development projects to focus their efforts towards those in dire need of relief food assistance.
On water trucking, Duale asked area County Commissioner, the chair of the County Steering group, to allocate more water trucks to Lagdera sub-county.
Duale said that although Ijara, parts of Fafi and Balambala sub-counties were experiencing drought, they bordered the river Tana and may not be that badly off in terms of water needs.
“I want to appeal to the Country Steering Group that when they are distributing water to drought victims, they should allocate more trucks to Lagdera because it has no source of water and it does not border the river Tana,” Duale said adding that Dadaab sub-county that is equally affected has several boreholes dug by the donor communities supporting refugees in the area.
On his part Lagdera MP Abdikadir Mohamed stressed the need to increase water trucking noting that relief food without water would make less impact.
“Giving relief food to victims is important but without water to cook the food and drink, it poses another problem. My humble appeal is that relief food distribution and animal pellets for animals should go hand in hand with water trucking,” Mohamed said.
Governor Nathif Jama commended the national government’s intervention on the current drought noting his administration would also step up drought mitigation measures.
Garissa County Commissioner Boaz Cherutich said the government would soon launch an intensive programme to mop up all school going children who dropped out or failed to join school because of the drought.
“I am asking all the chiefs to participate fully in this programme so that no child fails to attain an education because of drought,” Cherutich said.
The commissioner said his office would coordinate the programme and bring on board other partners to ensure it succeeds.
“This exercise is aimed at ensuring all school going children are back in school. The government will also enhance school feeding programme so that those in school are retained,” he added.
The food distribution launch was led by President William Ruto and was done in 13 areas in the affected counties.
By Jacob Songok