Is failed leadership the root cause of the biting drought?

Chief Executive Committee (CEC) Pastoral economy Mr Christopher Aletia distribute relief food to hunger-stricken locals at Kakwenya village in Turkana central. 16.03.2019 PHOTOS BY BAKARI ANG'ELA.
When President Uhuru Kenyatta took office for the second term, he made it clear that he will ensure that no Kenyan dies of hunger. The big four agenda came up, with food security among the key areas.

Sadly, that has become a pipe dream. Kenyans are sick, others dying out of the biting starvation.

Livestock on their deathbed; the ravaging drought is sparing no one. Those alive are entangled in complete oblivion of what the future holds. It is pathetic, no water, no food, two people confirmed dead. Emaciated bodies of men, women and children, paint a picture of a society on the verge of extinction.

Statistics indicate that close to 1.1 million Kenyans are facing starvation and the situation is getting worse.  But as Kenyans on social media appear shell-shocked on the re-emergence of another episode of drought, what could be the real issues bedevilling the drought mitigation processes.

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Turkana and Baringo counties being on the red alert and among other 12 counties facing severe starvation, the question that begs for an answer remains, six years after devolution do people really have to die of hunger?

Budget allocation     

On record, Turkana county has in the past financial years been among the top three counties with hefty budget allocation. The region undeniably a county of contradiction, owing to its commercially viable oil and enough water underground that can sustain Kenya for 60 years, is seemingly giving a picture of a failed administration.

During the 2017 General Elections, controversy ensued between Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok and President Uhuru, after the county boss was put to task to explain what he had achieved with close to sh40 billion allocated to his county.

The governor later contradicted the President's assertions, saying his county received only Sh33 billion.

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Notwithstanding the latest budget allocation, it remains an uphill task to identify specific drought mitigation measures initiated by Turkana County government, using the said Sh33 billion. Could the glaring drought be telling a tale of misplaced priorities? Definitely the backstops with county government.

Enough food

On January 2019, Rift Valley farmers were embroiled in a standoff with the National Government over the purchase of maize. By restricting the number of bags to be purchased, the government was clearly saying, it is unable to buy surplus maize from the farmers, perhaps a clear indication that there was enough food in the country beyond the expectation.

Furthermore, an address over the drought matter on Monday, Deputy President William Ruto emphasized the point that there was sufficient food in the country, dispelling fears of premonition about the matter.

“Food situation is stable, prices are stable We have sufficient food, the food situation is stable and there should be no cause for alarm,” said Ruto.

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Being on the knowledge that the utmost challenge to pastoralists will always remain the ever biting drought, it is obviously expected that food security should always absorb the lion share of the budget.

However, the latest invasion of drought is seemingly proving a point that someone might be taking a nap at his job, at the expense of the suffering citizens.

It's definitely time to learn from the previous mistake and have a lasting solution to this menace. But for now, it remains a riddle as well as a conjectural matter, how the county and the national government has failed to initiate appropriate mechanisms to curb this perennial problem of severe drought

Other counties facing severe starvation include Mandera, Garissa, Baringo, Kilifi, Tana River, West Pokot, Marsabit, Makueni, Kajiado, Kwale and Isiolo

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Uhuru KenyattaTurkanaWilliam RutodroughtTurkana County governmentJosephat Nanok