State declares drought a national disaster, pleads for help
Over 23 counties have been affected. Weather experts say rains are expected in April
In a statement from the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit (PSCU), President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked all local and international stakeholders to support the government by up-scaling drought mitigation programms.
“Support from our partners would complement efforts in mitigating the effects of drought,” Uhuru said after being briefed on the situation on the ground by Cabinet Secretaries involved in drought management and food security at State House in Nairobi.
The President has reckoned a massive impact caused to human beings, livestock and wildlife, adding that government would fast-track and up-scale mitigation programmes to ensure the situation is properly contained.
Political leaders from worst hit areas among them Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, had asked the President to declare the ongoing drought a national disaster, saying “there was no need to wait until the situation got out of hand.”
On his part, Mandera North MP Noor Mohammed, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, 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,” Noor said.
Uhuru has also 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.
Previously, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary had made an announcement that the government would go ahead to import cereals, should the unscrupulous businessmen fail to sell what they are holding on in anticipation of the high prices.
As a mitigation measure which is on course through phases, a phase two slated for February to April, the government already allocated Sh11 billion for intervention in various sectors.
Treasury has already released Sh7.3 billion while county governments have provided Sh2 billion.
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