Government estimates indicate 865,000 people in Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties of Samburu, Marsabit, Garissa, Isiolo, Mandera, Wajir, Baringo, Kilifi, Tana River, West Pokot, Makueni, Kajiado, and Kwale are currently facing food insecurity.
Overall estimates show 1.1 million citizens countrywide are facing starvation.
According to Deputy President William Ruto, the new funding to be channelled through the Ministries of Devolution and Agriculture is in addition to Sh12.4 billion ($124 million) set to be disbursed through the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection via cash transfers to 1.3 million vulnerable persons including the elderly.
“The Devolution Cabinet Secretary has already hit the road with the intervention that government had in the budget so what we’re releasing this afternoon is additional resources to back up the kitty under the Devolution Ministry,” Ruto announced Monday.
After chairing a meeting attended by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution), Mwangi Kiunjuri (Agriculture), and Simon Chelugui (Water) at Harambee House Annex, Mr Ruto added that the government would also support ongoing efforts by County Governments to tackle the food crisis.
“County Governments have an ongoing mechanism of intervention and therefore National Government Ministries will proceed to support ongoing efforts without delay,” he said.
This comes as Turkana County Governor Josphat Nanok said his administration has allocated Sh 200 million for relief food and an additional Sh 150 million as an emergency fund which it might be forced to spend if the current drought situation persists.
“Food has been delivered and distribution is ongoing to reach 576,000 people which comprises 70 per cent of the population,” said Nanok.
National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) Chief Executive Officer James Oduor who attended the Harambee House Annex meeting denied reports of deaths as a result of starvation in Baringo and Turkana Counties saying a prior advisory had been issued to facilitate timely response by both levels of government.
“Yes, deaths have been reported. But the reports we’ve gotten from our multi-agency team on-ground have not linked the reported deaths directly to drought. We’re not where we were in 2017. We’re not in an emergency,” Oduor stressed.
The Meteorological Department earlier on Monday attributed the prevailing drought situation in ASAL counties to a tropical cyclone that has reduced the accumulation of much-needed moisture for precipitation.