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National Drought Management Authority warns of food shortage

By By Paul Mutua and Antony Gitonga | Published Fri, January 24th 2014 at 00:00, Updated January 23rd 2014 at 22:53 GMT +3
The National Drought Management Authority Board Chairperson Agnes Ndetei (extreme left) at a farm in Kitui County, Thursday.  [PHOTOS: PAUL MUTUA/STANDARD]

By Paul Mutua and Antony Gitonga

Kenya: The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) has put the Government on alert over looming drought and food insecurity in the country.

The authority’s board chairperson Agnes Ndetei said the Government must wake up and start implementing specified mitigation measures for the anticipated drought.

Speaking when she toured Kitui County for a familiarisation and fact-finding mission, the chairperson said the current drought situation especially in lower and northern parts of the county had reached an alarming stage. “The Government must make available drought funds before disaster happens to make the contingency plans and activities work effectively,” said Ms Ndetei.

Ndetei said people must be encouraged to define and re-define their economic objectives so as to fight social calamities including food and water scarcity.

The chairperson, who paid a courtesy call to Kitui Deputy Governor Peninah Malonza before touring agricultural and water projects initiated by the local drought management office, asked the county government to use well the available resources and try to improve residents’ livelihoods.

Those accompanying Ndetei were the County Drought Management Co-ordinator Daniel Mbuvi, National Project Manager on Kenya Adaption to Climate Change in Arid Lands Kimathi Mutungi and the county’s Drought Response Officer Leah Sang among other officers.

Mbuvi said as the drought rages, the community was in despair and hunger and poverty had swept through the region.

Ms Sang highlighted the water sector as one of the key mitigation measures that would be put in place in anticipation of the coming drought.

Meanwhile, the Government has advised pastoralists to start de-stocking to avert losses due to the ongoing drought that has hit parts of the country. The Ministry of Agriculture has written to counties to assist in the exercise so as to avoid mass death of livestock in the affected counties witnessed a couple of years ago.

Sleeping sickness

According to the Livestock Principal Secretary Khadijah Kassachoon, the Government has also directed the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) to start buying the affected livestock.

Dr Kassachoon said so far Turkana, North Eastern and the upper parts of Coast have been affected and added that the Government has adequate stock of feeder in strategic locations.

“We have directed KMC to start buying livestock whose condition is still good so as to reduce pressure on current pastures,” she said.

The PS was speaking at the Dairy Training Institute in Naivasha after opening a workshop for the Kenya Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Council.

She admitted that the effects of trypanosomiasis were serious as it affected farmers, livestock and wildlife adding that there was need to deal with it urgently.