Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, his Devolution and Planning counterpart Mwangi Kiunjuri and Tana River Governor Hussein Dado addressing the press at Galana Kulalu Food Security Programme on Friday.
The Government has embarked on drought mitigation exercises in Tana River and Kilifi counties. The process will see thousands of affected residents receive food and water totaling millions of shillings.
The programme is handled by the Ministries of Water and Irrigation and Devolution and Planning. The residents adversely affected by the ongoing drought at the Coast region are mostly in the counties of Tana-River, Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu and Taita-Taveta in the Coast region.
The exercise was led by the Cabinet Secretary for Water and Irrigation Eugene Wamalwa, his Devolution counterpart Mwangi Kiunjuri on Friday, after which they went to the Galana Food Security Programme farm in Tana River.
During the Tana River event, Mr Wamalwa handed over 62,000 bags of maize harvested from the farm to CS Kiunjuri to be distributed as famine relief to the affected counties in the coast region. “Today, we witness the reality of the Government’s efforts to feed its citizens by providing those affected by drought with the first fruits of Galana-Kulalu Food Security Project model farm which is afflatoxin free maize,” CS Wamalwa said.
Mr Wamalwa who described the Galana-Kulalu Food Security project as a success story, warned politicians against “ preaching falsehoods” against ongoing projects in his Ministry such as the Northern Water Collector Tunnel in Muranga, Itare Dam in Nakuru and many others.
He said Kenyans deserved efficient, effective and affordable water and the government should be allowed to provide it without undue criticism.
The delegation later on went to Jaribuni and Ganze areas in Kilifi County. The National Treasury has released funds for November 2016 to some ministries through this programme to enable them come up with strategies to mitigate the adverse effects of drought.
The Ministry of Water and Irrigation has been given at least Ksh221 million through the State Department of Water Services, under Prof Fred Segor who has already constituted a ministerial committee chaired by the acting Secretary Water, Eng Lawrence Simitu.
The Committee has already empowered relevant Water Service boards within the Ministry, with programmes in the affected counties to urgently implement drought mitigation activities under the coordination of the Ministry. Kilifi residents will become the first recipients of the drought kitty. This week, the team will be in Garissa. More affected counties will be visited until all relevant areas benefit from these activities.
Mr Wamalwa promised the affected residents that more maize will be released to them to a tune of 150,000 bags over the next four months. “Galana-Kulalu Food Security Project Model Farm continues gathering momentum. The scope of works for the model farm consist of irrigation systems, pumping stations, logistics center, agricultural machinery and one-year operations,” the CS said.
The Water and Irrigation CS said maintenance commenced on 11th September 2014, and is currently at 70 per cent completion rate, adding that the area under irrigation globally is 16 per cent of the total agricultural area, but the crop yield is 40 per cent of the total yield.
The productivity of irrigated land is four times that of unirrigated land. “In terms of monetary value of the yield, irrigated crops is seven times of that unirrigated crops basically due to high quality and production scheduling. The project is due for completion in March 2017,” the CS said.
The two CSs also distributed free water and food to residents of Ganze in Kilifi County. They reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to the ongoing drought mitigation programme, which they said will cushion the affected people from the harsh effects of the ongoing drought.
During the Ganze function branded “National Government Drought Mitigation Programme for Water Trucking and Food Distribution” coordinated by the Coast Water Services, the two CSs promised that residents will continue getting free water and food until the calamity ends.
Area MP Peter Shehe and nominated Senator Mvita Mshenga attended the event.
Prof Segor assured residents affected by the drought that his department was rehabilitating bore holes, providing free water from water browsers among other strategies to ensure adequate supply of the commodity to them and their animals.
Irrigation PS Mr Nduati Mwangi said the Government has made a commitment to modernise and expand irrigated agriculture from the current 400,000 acres to 1.4 million acres. “That is why Galana-Kulalu Food Security project was started within initial 10,000 acre model farm currently under construction to demonstrate the application of modern irrigation technologies and mechanisation,” he observed.
Devolution CS promised residents that apart from maize and water, his Ministry will continue to supply the affected residents with rice, beans and cooking oil to ensure Kenyans get a balanced diet.
Tana River County Governor thanked the two CSs for their “timely intervention area residents were in dire need of food and water support from the government. (By Monica Omoro)