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Wajir appeals for more relief assistance

Ravaging drought in Wajir County has reached an alarming proportions following failure of successive short and long rains leading to depletion of pasture and browse, drying of water pans and dams and consequently increasing stress on existing boreholes.

According to meteorological department records, the last time the county received adequate rainfall was in December 2019 leading to a long dry spell thereby causing humanitarian crisis as thousands of livestock succumbed to the ravages of drought.

Speaking at County Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Hall during a meeting with officials from the state department of ASALs and the United Nations (UN), the County Governor Ali Mukhtar revealed that preliminary findings indicated that at least 193,316 people were food insecure.

He however expressed fears the figure was likely to rise to more than 250,000 given a forecasted poor performance of the 2021 short rains season.

The governor was meeting the team led by Principal Secretary State Department of Arid and Semi-Arid lands Micah Powon and UN Resident Coordinator Kenya, Dr Stephen Jackson to map out drought response and intervention strategies.

He presided over the launch of a flash appeal on the drought response adding that the situation was further aggravated by reported cases of endemic livestock diseases such as contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP), peste des petit ruminants (PPR), sheep and goat pox (SGP), tick paralysis, Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP), foot and mouth disease (FMD), worms’ infestation, trypanosomiasis and opportunistic diseases.

“Cases of livestock diseases are expected to increase as livestock congregate at common grazing and watering points during the dry season,” observed the Governor.

He also noted that livestock prices have rapidly reduced due to weakening livestock body conditions thus affecting households’ access to disposable income and food.

“Consequently, the number of households requiring emergency food assistance and support from Government safety nets keeps increasing on a daily basis as the situation further deteriorates,’, said Mukhtar.

While appreciating President Uhuru Kenyatta’s declaration of the drought as a national disaster and unveiling of funds for mitigation through the Ministry of Public Service and Special programmes, Mukhtar noted that this initiative had also given impetus to development partners to direct their emergency resources to fight the biting drought.

Organisations implementing various drought interventions in the County include Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, Ministry of Public Service and Special Programmes, UN agencies particularly World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), IOM and other non-governmental organisations such as Save the Children, Islamic Relief Kenya, World Vision and Kenya Red Cross Society among others.

By Donald Ngala

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