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Monday, July 24, 2017

Kenya declares drought national disaster, asks for help

A herder in Odole, Tana Delta, looks at the carcass of an animal that died as a result of drought, October 27, 2016. /ALPHONCE GARI
A herder in Odole, Tana Delta, looks at the carcass of an animal that died as a result of drought, October 27, 2016. /ALPHONCE GARI

The government has declared a national disaster the drought that has affected 23 arid and semi-arid counties and pockets of other areas.

President Uhuru Kenyatta asked all local and international stakeholders to support the government by up-scaling drought mitigation programmes.

“Support from our partners would complement efforts in mitigating the effects of drought,” Uhuru said at State House in Nairobi.

He spoke on Friday after being briefed on situations on the ground by Cabinet Secretaries involved in drought management and food security.

The President noted that the drought has affected human beings, livestock and wildlife.

He said the government would fast-track and up-scale mitigation programmes to ensure the situation is properly contained.

Several leaders had asked the President to declare drought a national disaster, saying there was no need to wait until the situation got out of hand.

Mandera North MP Noor Mohammed, chairman of the Agriculture committee, said last October that the situation was devastating and required immediate response.

“Resources have never been enough. The government should not wait until the situation gets out of hand to declare it a national disaster. It should rise up and mobilise resources,” he said.

More on this: Sh2bn drought relief for victims, says Duale

Also read: ODM demands immediate state intervention against drought

Uhuru issued a stern warning against those in food distribution who may be taking advantage of the drought to enrich themselves.

“I will not tolerate anybody who tries to take advantage of this situation to misuse public funds,”he said, adding is government will take serious measures against them.

The President said there will be transparency in the purchase of food and other items and that all government agencies will be involved to prevent fraud.

“Let all investigative agencies, including the EACC, get involved in activities undertaken during this period. I don’t want the government to be accused of taking advantage of this situation,” he said.

To stabilise the high prices of cereals, the government will allow maize importation by licensed millers but strictly monitor the situation for the sake of transparency.

In phase two of intervention efforts, which covers February to April, the government allocated Sh11 billion shillings for intervention in various sectors.

Treasury has released Sh7.3 billion while county governments have provided Sh2 billion.

The government intends to enhance the interventions through efforts including doubling food rations and cash transfers.

Read: Expect serious drought early in 2017, UN warns Kenya

Among officials who attended the State House meeting were Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua and Conservation Secretary Gideon Gathaara.

Others were Cabinet Secretaries Henry Rotich (Treasury), Willy Bett (Agriculture), Mwangi Kiunjuri (Devolution), Phyllis Kandie (Labour), Eugene Wamalwa (Water) and Principal Secretaries Richard Lesiyampe, Susan Mochache and Fred Sigor.

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