President declares drought national disaster, calls on ministerial action

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021 00:00 |

President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared drought a national disaster with close to three million people facing imminent starvation.

Consequently, the President has instructed the National Treasury and the Ministry of Interior to spearhead government efforts to assist affected households who urgently need water and relief food distribution. 

To curb animal loses, the President also wants the Treasury to urgently disburse funds for livestock uptake.

The number of the affected people is set to increase after Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) revealed in its latest weather projections that the October-December short rains will also be depressed and short lived.

“The decision follows today’s meeting between the Head of State and 85 leaders from Kenya’s Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASAL) led by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani,” a short statement from State House Nairobi last evening stated.

Two weeks ago, the National Treasury said it would release Sh2 billion under the National Drought Emergency Fund (NDEF) to assist the families.

“More details of the government’s comprehensive drought mitigation measures will be unveiled in due course,” Kanze Dena, State House spokesperson said.

The leaders from the ASAL counties were meeting for the second time within a week in Nairobi to forge a new political alignment ahead of the 2022 election.

Last Thursday, the leaders met and asked President Kenyatta to declare the drought that is currently ravaging the region a national disaster.

Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo who spoke on their behalf said drought, water and food shortage had affected the entire region.

“The government should now declare the drought a national disaster,” she stated accompanied by her Garissa counterpart, Abdulkadir Haji, Adan Keynan (Eldas Member of Parliament), former Lagdera MP Farah Maalim and Samburu Woman Representative Maison Leshoomo.

According to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), the situation is growing into a crisis due to the failed rains in the region for three consecutive seasons.

“If we do not receive rains from October, the drought might evolve into an emergency,” NDMA chief executive officer James Oduor said a fortnight ago during a press conference.

In NDMA’s latest report about 2.3 million people in northern Kenya need food donations to survive until December.

This is a 40 per cent increase from the 1.4 million people that were in need of food aid in February. On its website, the Authority indicates that Sh4.9 billion is required to provide food alone for the two million people in need of support between now and December.

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