Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri (left) and his National Treasury counterpart Henry Rotich addressing a joint press briefing on the drought and Food security situation in arid and semi arid counties at Treasury building. They noted the most affected counties are Kilifi, Kwale, TanaRiver and Taita Taveta.Other affected counties include Garissa, Wajir,Mandera,Isiolo Marsabit,Makueni.Kitui and Samburu. [Photo: Nicholas Nthenge]
The government is distributing relief food and water to about 1.3 million Kenyans spread in 23 arid and semi-arid counties who are facing starvation.
Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri assured that more measures have been taken to ensure no Kenyan dies of hunger. He said the government is also protecting livestock in the affected areas from the vagaries of weather.
He said the food insecurity situation has been brought about by poor rainfall in arid and semi-arid counties during the March to May long rain season. “The most affected counties are Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River and Taita Taveta. Others are Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Isiolo, Marsabit, Makueni, Kitui, and Samburu,” he said.
Kiunjuri said the government is continuously monitoring food situation in affected areas and promptly taking appropriate action.
Briefing the press in his office on the drought and food security situation in Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties on Friday, CS Kiunjuri said that in August, the National Treasury released Sh250 million for emergency relief food. He was accompanied by his counterpart in the National Treasury Mr Henry Rotich and National Drought Management Authority CEO James Oduor.
Mr Kiunjuri said his ministry has been able to distribute an assortment of food stuff to those affected especially in Kilifi County which is worst hit, this month alone. The food stuff include 3,500 (90Kg) bags of maize, 2,700 (50Kg) bags of beans, 10000 (50Kg) bags of rice, and 1000 cartons of vegetable oil.
He said the ministry has also mobilised 20 water bowsers for emergency water supply in the most affected areas.
Kiunjuri said his ministry through the National Drought management Authority has also since July released to the affected counties Sh54 million to support intervention gaps in livestock, education, water, health and nutrition and conflict management.
The Cabinet Secretary said after a consultative meeting yesterday to review the drought and food security situation in the country, a technical team was established to identify gaps in interventions and enable comprehensive response.
Kiunjuri said the technical team which has members from line ministries was also tasked with establishing the funds required to feed the starving Kenyans and provide them with water. He said the funds will be drawn from the Contingency Fund as the ministry had not budgeted for the prevailing food insecurity.
Rotich said his ministry has been coordinating with relevant ministries to get proper costing of the intervention measures required. He said the technical team will work on details and come up the amount to be sourced from the Contingency Fund.
The National Treasury CS said unlike in previous years where there have been overlaps and duplication of efforts in interventions to address food insecurity by ministries, the government decided to have a joint ministerial team to co-ordinate the exercise this year.
Ministries represented in the consultative meeting are Devolution and National Planning, National Treasury, Water and Irrigation, and Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. CS Kiunjuri challenged governors to make use of county contingency funds to provide food and water to starving Kenyans in their respective areas.
The Cabinet Secretary said the prevailing food insecurity could have been worse were it not for the long-term measures the government has taken in the last four years to bring about food security and ensure Kenyans are not dependent on relief food.
Kiunjuri’s said numbers of those facing food insecurity are going down each passing year, noting that initially, it used to be about five million Kenyans. He said without the early intervention measures by the government, the number of those starving could have doubled.
He said the government is committed to ensure farmers move away from rain-fed agriculture to embrace irrigation. Kiunjuri said several water pans and boreholes have either been completed or are in the process of being constructed in various parts of the country.
The assurance by the government that no Kenyan will starve to death comes three days before the World Food Day 2016, which will be celebrated on Monday next week. The theme of this year is ‘Climate is changing. Food and Agriculture must too’.
This year the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a UN agency, is calling on countries to address food and agriculture in the climate action plans and invest more in rural development. (KNA)