• It has been reported about 20 people have died from hunger. Turkana, Baringo, Marsabit, Makueni and Tana River among the worst-affected
• National Disaster Management Authority accuses the media of exaggerating the problem and sending wrong information, say hunger deaths can't be proved
Senators have urged the government to declare famine a national disaster.
The lawmakers also want quick deployment of the military to save lives in Turkana and Baringo counties.
The Senate on Tuesday adjourned their afternoon session to discuss drought, starvation and food security. It has been reported that about 20 people have died of hunger.
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula said the situation is an indictment of the government as the National Disaster Management Authority had issued an early warning in November last year of impending famine, but no action was taken.
“As this is happening, farmers in the breadbasket areas cannot sell their produce. If you go to parts of Western Kenya, women sit by the roadside with produce the whole day without selling,” Wetang'ula said. In other parts of the country, Kenyans are dying of hunger, he said.
The senator said Turkana county gets the second highest allocation from the government and even without the help of the national government, it can afford food subsidies for residents.
"We don't want this cycle of embarrassment of people dying of hunger to be part of our history. The Turkana government should freeze development programmes and save lives.”
Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen blamed the situation on failure to distribute food countrywide.
“The problem is not that there is no enough food. It is silly that people should die because we cannot move food from Kitale to Turkana,” Murkomen said.
Minority leader James Orengo criticised the government for downplayinf the impact of the drought.
“It is a matter of fact people are dying of famine and hunger in Turkana. In the immediate term, we hope people will see some intervention to help alleviate the situation. It is terrible that just next to Turkana, there is a granary of Kenya,” the Siaya senator said.
On Monday, National Disaster Management Authority CEO James Oduor accused the media of amplifying the reports and sending the wrong information to the public.
It is a matter of fact people are dying of famine and hunger in Turkana... It is terrible that just next to Turkana, there is a granary of Kenya
Siaya Senator James Orengo
He said deaths had been reported in Baringo, Tiaty and Turkana, and experts from water and health deployed. “Yes, deaths were there, but they cannot be linked directly to drought. This can be as a result of sickness and other issues,” he said.
Pokot Senator Samuel Poghisio said denying death is an insult to the suffering of Turkana residents.
“These denials seem to be in the DNA of the government,” Poghisio said.
Turkana, Baringo, Moyale Town, Marsabit, Makueni and Tana River counties are among the worst-hit areas.