A budget rich on numbers and hope but ...

By Roseleen Nzioka

So Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled the country's biggest budget ever, with Ksh 1.15 trillion earmarked to run the country for the next one (financial) year.

I, like majority of Kenyans, cannot get my head around a billion shillings let alone the trillions being bandied about as the panacea to the myriad problems bedeviling our country.

A day before the budget statement was read, media reports said that seven people died of starvation in Kalapata location of Turkana South District.

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The victims are reported to have succumbed to hunger after they went without food and water for several days.

The reports quoted area councillor Samson Ekuwom saying that more than 20,000 people are currently threatened by starvation.

Ekuwom said the water wells had dried up forcing people to trek for more than 50 kilometers in search of the commodity.

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Elsewhere media reports say residents of Ganze District of Kilifi County are starving. They have been forced to eat wild fruits while others have migrated in search of food.

Bamba DO Stephen Kaloki confirmed the reports and called for help saying about 40,000 people are starving. He said the famine had adversely affected learning as hungry children had dropped out of school.

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Last month, President Kibaki declared drought a national disaster and ordered Treasury to facilitate urgent imports of maize to boost the country’s strategic grain reserves.

The reason for recapping the media reports on hungry Kenyans and our government’s knee-jerk reactions to disasters is to remind ourselves that we need to see tangible actions on the ground to mitigate the adverse effects of drought and famine. We cannot afford to have one more Kenyan die of hunger!

Anything short of resuscitating the starving Kenyans and bringing them back to good health, smacks of a budget rich in numbers but reeks of total disconnect between the numbers and the Kenyans it is supposed to serve.

It is a cardinal sin for any government ministry in this poverty-stricken country to return money to Treasury at the end of the financial year when Kenyans are sharing hospital beds, lack drugs and basic preventive and curative medical services and are dying from starvation.

Truly those trillions proposed in the 2011 budget have to account for something and it is we Kenyans who must make the authorities at all levels accountable.

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