State scales up assistance to avert food crisis
The government is scaling up assistance to millions of people on the verge of famine in 23 counties hard hit by prolonged drought.
Government spokesperson Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna says 2.7 million Kenyans needed humanitarian assistance and that the severity of acute food insecurity was expected to increase owing to the prolonged dry spell currently being experienced in parts of the country.
Oguna says the government is determined that no one dies of hunger and is providing emergency food aid and relief cash transfer programmes to cushion and improve the livelihoods of drought victims.
Drought has plunged 23 counties with expansive arid geography into a food and water crisis leaving 10s of thousands of families’ hungry forcing President Uhuru Kenyatta in September last year to declare the current drought a national disaster and mobilizing all government agencies to respond to it.
The affected counties include Kwale, Lamu, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Turkana, Samburu, West Pokot, Baringo, Kajiado, Narok, Laikipia, Nyeri, Embu, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Makueni, Kitui, Marsabit, Isiolo, Wajir, Garissa and Mandera.
Rain has not fallen in arid and semi-arid lands for three consecutive seasons leaving agriculture and livestock dependent households destitute.
Experts say the devastating drought has been caused by a dramatic shift in weather patterns blamed on climate change.
“We have launched a new wave of food distribution and relief cash transfer programme dubbed ‘caravan of hope’ and the aim is to prevent the most vulnerable from slipping into famine conditions,” said Oguna noting that Sh2 billion has been set aside to combat hunger and avert humanitarian crisis.
He said food assistance and other humanitarian support would be scaled up in the months ahead to reach a larger proportion of the population affected by the drought.
“No one will die of hunger due to the protracted drought since it’s the government’s resolve to ensure that drought victims, the poor, the destitute and the elderly get the benefits of the various social safety net schemes without any discrimination,” he said.
He said the government through a multi-sectoral approach is also coordinating national drought interventions such as livestock off-take programme, water trucking and construction of dams.
As the effects of the dry season continued to spike, the government spokesman assured that the massive scale-up in food distribution will run alongside the cash transfer programme to cushion drought victims. “The renewed effort to distribute food aid will not end the recent shift to the cash transfer program but the two programs aimed at boosting livelihoods of drought-stricken households would run concurrently,” said Oguna.
He said the magnitude of the current drought crisis and its impact on the people necessitates the need to expand interventions to save lives.