Safeguard drought mitigation funds

Monday, August 30th, 2021 00:00 |

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After months of warning that the country’s food situation is worrying, the government has finally acknowledged that we are on the throes of a disaster. This is made worse by the unrelenting Covid-19 pandemic.

The National Disaster Management Authority has announced that at least 23 counties are  experiencing adverse effects of the long dry spell, including severe shortage of food, pasture and water. 

Garissa, Isiolo, Kilifi, Kitui, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Wajir and Turkana are among the most affected.

The situation is also worrying in Baringo, Kajiado, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Laikipia, Lamu, Makueni, Meru, Tharaka Nithi and West Pokot.

The disaster management agency says the abnormally dry situation has been obtaining since July.

While the government is now rolling out various measures--including release of funds- to mitigate the effects of the drought in half of the counties, there is no denying that the response has been slow, at best. 

Thaat is despite the fact the alarm was raised much earlier. The March-May long rains failed in many parts of the country and areas where there were rains, they were less than usual.

Secondly, for several months now, the media have been reporting cases of failed crops, poor pasture and even starvation in some parts of the country.

Without much change in the weather conditions, there was little doubt that famine would follow and livestock would die in large numbers. Yet there is little evidence that the authorities were planning for the worst.

Now that belated measures to remedy the situation are being put in place, it is crucial that the people in charge of managing the response do not bungle it. Of main concern is the utilisation of funds for mitigation.

The authourit says some Sh1.7 billion is available and is in the process of being distributed to the devolved units. But that is a drop in the ocean considering that the agency says it requires Sh7.3 billion to successfully address the problem.

Besides allocating adequate resources to the mitigation campaign, there everything ensure every coin goes towards the intended purpose. Disasters and funds are an unwholesome recipe for mega financial scandals in Kenya.

Thousands of lives and livelihoods are on the line and vigilance must be exercised to ensure that the funds meant to save them do not up in the pockets of individuals out to exploit a misfortune to make a fortune.

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