Give Northeastern money, not maize and beans – MPs

They claimed that food aid programmes are controlled by cartels who steal most of the cash

In Summary

• The region needs long-lasting programmes like dams for irrigation.

• The Meteorological Department forecasts that the rains in the area will start at the end of the month

Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa flags off trucks of relief food in Lodwar.
DROUGHT: Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa flags off trucks of relief food in Lodwar.

Food donations are humiliating to pastoralist communities as they condemn people to a diet of maize and beans, Northeastern Kenya leaders said yesterday.

They preferred cash donations.

"We are not refugees in a concentration camp that whenever there is a drought you rush in there with food donations," Ijara MP Sofia Abdi said. 

Her Eldas colleague Adan Keynan proposed that those in need be given money to buy the food they want.

The leaders and representatives of the civil society were discussing the drought that is ravaging arid northern Kenya in a Nairobi hotel.

They said that food donation programmes are controlled by cartels, which steal most of the money. 

The group said longlasting programmes like dams for irrigation were the answer to the region's problems. 

"Kenya is considered a middle-income country" and this status is expected to translate into proper drought response, they said in a statement read by Daadab MP Mohamed Dahir.

They said the food being sent to pastoralist areas is inadequate and feared that the situation will get worse in May and peak in October. 

"Although the government has responded to the crisis using its resources, it is insufficient, and clearly too little too late," they said. 

The latest forecast from the Meteorological Department shows that the rains will come at the end of this month.

Farmers have been advised to plant only fast-maturing crops because the rainy season, which should have been long, will be short.

“The late onset of the seasonal rains will impact negatively on agricultural activities. The distribution, both in time and space, is, however, likely to be poor,”  head of Meteorological Department Stella Aura said.

The rains have begun in Western Kenya and are expected to spread across the country toward the end of the month.

Aura said April will be the peak month of the long rains season.

The gloomy monthly forecast means the food crisis in northern Kenya is likely to continue.

Recently, the weatherman blamed the continued dry weather on the tropical cyclone that devasted Mozambique for days from March 14, saying it sucked up most of the rains meant for Kenya and the Horn of Africa.

Last week, deputy director of meteorological services Samuel Mwangi told the Star that the effects of tropical cyclones were already wearing off and Kenyans should expect rains.

Edited by Pamela Wanambisi.