The persistent drought situation in Isiolo and Marsabit Counties that is worsening as days go by has finally triggered an emergency action from the national government, with the Cabinet secretary in charge of devolution Mwangi Kiunjuri heading a special programmes delegation to take food stuffs to affected people as well as initiate a livestock off-take programme in order to mitigate the drought effects.
Speaking at Ngaremara area of Isiolo yesterday where he oversaw a relief food distribution exercise, CS Kiunjuri said that the government was committed towards ensuring that no life is lost as a result of the ongoing drought in the region. He said that up to now, not a single human death had been reported due to hunger though a number of livestock have already succumbed to the harsh conditions.
Regarding the state of food security in the Country, Kiunjuri expressed optimism that there was a sufficient amount of maize in the Country, adding that records indicate that there were 21 Million bags of the crucial commodity in the Country, with at least 1.3 Million bags already in the hands of the National Cereals and Produce Board. He added that the government was now requesting farmers to sell more of their maize to the government.
CS Kiunjuri reiterated that the government had already temporarily banned the exportation of maize to other countries as it was important to retain all the grains within the Kenyan territory in anticipation of tougher times ahead. He said that the amount was sufficient to feed the needy Kenyans until the month of June, adding that the government would import more if need arose.
On the Part of Livestock, the CS said that the government had put in place plans to roll out a livestock off-take programme to cushion the pastoralist communities against massive losses due to death of their animals.
He said that instead of buying the emaciated animals and transporting them in trucks to other places for meat, the government would buy them and instead slaughter them and give the meat to the same community as part of balanced diet. He announced that the programme would target 4,500 animals in Marsabit County while in Isiolo, 4,000 animals would be targeted. Other affected Counties would also be considered for the same programme depending on the degree of need.
Isiolo County governor Godana Doyo lauded the national government for the initiative and raised concern over the acute water shortage being experienced in the County. The governor said that rivers Isiolo and Ewaso Nyiro that the people of Isiolo rely on were now on the brink of drying completely due to over abstraction of water by farmers in the upstream counties. He called for support by the national government to help with water buzzers to ensure that the pastoralists who are now moving with their animals are supplied with the crucial commodity wherever they are.
Isiolo County commissioner George Natembeya said that Isiolo County was now becoming a host to herders from the neighbouring Samburu, Marsabit, Wajir and Garissa Counties hence the need for the government to factor the visitors when distributing the food rations.
CS Kiunjuri said that the nomadic pastoralists would be tracked and offered water and food and later urged to register as voters in order to ensure that they also exercise their democratic right come the next general elections.
Ms Grace Ekiru, a resident of Ngaremara and a beneficiary lauded the national government for the emergency initiative but called upon the leaders to consider taking more food to schools in order to boost attendance. She raised concerns that most pupils were currently not attending classes since there was no food in schools.