Hundreds of hunger-stricken households in West Pokot County are set to receive relief food from the government to cushion them from the biting effects of famine caused by ravaging drought in the region.
The relief food will be distributed to residents according to their vulnerability as part of the government’s effort to mitigate the effects of drought after President Uhuru Kenyatta declared it a national disaster.
Speaking to the press when he received the relief food from the National Government at Kapenguria town, West Pokot Sub County Deputy County Commissioner, Kennedy Lunalo, said the region has received 300 bags of rice, 50kg each, 240 bags of beans, 50kg each, as part of government’s commitment to fight hunger and starvation across the country.
“We have received relief food from the Government of Kenya and I have talked to the Director of agriculture so that he can furnish us with a list of the neediest areas, those that have been adversely affected and those whose crops do not do well. When we get the report, we will convene a meeting then we apportion this food strictly according to the vulnerability of the household,” Lunalo said.
According to the DCC, the National Government through the Ministry of Devolution, Planning and Special Programmes has put in place measures to mitigate the drought and that the relief food received in the county is part of the government policy to avert fatalities caused by hunger and starvation.
“The policy of the government is to assist the neediest. We have this practice where when relief food comes, everyone including those who are not needy line up to receive the donation, but for now we will only identify the people on the ground who are experiencing difficulties as beneficiaries of the relief food,” he explained.
He added that they would ensure the relief food reaches only the affected people across the county and condemned those who intend to steal or sell food meant vulnerable households.
Lunalo further said that if all goes well, each hunger-stricken household should at least receive not less than 20kgs of food to last them almost one month.
“The beneficiaries we are talking about include people with disabilities, we are also talking about those people with no income and they have children whom they have to feed. We are also talking about the sick, there are some people who are actually HIV+ who are on drugs and the orphans. Those are the specific people we are talking about and they will benefit from food the government has donated,’’ he further said.
The DCC urged residents to change their planting methods by considering drought-resistant crops like sorghum, cassava, millet, cowpeas, green gram and pigeon peas in order to avoid incurring any losses in future that comes with the failure of rains and its damaging impact on maize among other crops that need a lot of rain.
“The land in most parts of West Pokot County, is very fertile and the only problem is the unreliable rains. If people can also do some kind of diversification, so that they don’t only rely on pastoralism, but by embracing a bit of agriculture by planting short-season seeds that are drought resistant then they will have food for their families,” he noted.
The administrator said that apart from providing relief food as a way of mitigating the vulnerable population from hunger and starvation, the government has come up with an irrigation scheme in Pokot Central to assist in irrigating dry land to enable the people to be able to do some farming that will be quite sustainable for their livelihoods.
Lunalo said they are also bringing on board the local Assistant County Commissioners, Ward Administrators, chiefs and their assistants, before coming up with the final list of the most affected households so as to enhance transparency and accountability.
By Anthony Melly and Maureen Kapchanga