Herders migrate to Uganda as West Pokot families in search for food, pasture

Worst affected were women and children since they could not walk long distances in search of water and food. [Photo, Standard]

The hunger is worsening in the arid West Pokot County, with some 112,520 residents in dire need of food.

West Pokot County Commissioner Apollo Okello confirmed that the affected were emaciated and livestock adversely affected by effects of a prolonged dry season.

Mr Okello said the entire Pokot North and Pokot Central sub-counties had been hard-hit by drought, with several dams and water pans drying up, forcing residents to walk long distances in search of water.

Speaking in his office yesterday, the commissioner said they needed 10,000 bags of maize, 4,000 bags of beans, 2,000 bags of rice (50kg-bag) and 18,000 litres of cooking oil to help the affected people.

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“Some herders have moved their cows to Uganda in search of water and pasture. We are worried that if it fails to rain soon, the effects will be devastating,” he said.

He said the drought had also prompted some migrating herders to move to the neighbouring Turkana County, thus fueling cattle rustling along the border points.

“Alale, Konyao, Kacheliba, Kodich and Kasei water pans have dried up. Nutrition status continues to worsen and the percentage of children at risk is estimated at 52,” he said.

Speaking at Kiwawa, Kacheliba MP Mark Lomunokol asked the Government to urgently supply the region with relief food to prevent loss of lives.

“The Government should continue supplying food even after rains, since the region experienced crop failure in the previous season as a result of drought,” he said.

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He said the worst affected were women and children since they could not walk long distances in search of water and food.

Lomunokol further said the drought might force residents to overstay in the neighbouring Uganda if urgent measures are not put in place, noting that it could affect the coming national population census.

“If we don’t come up with mitigation measures right now, anticipated census might be affected since most of my people will still be in Uganda,” he said.

He appealed to the national government and donor agencies to aid in relief food and water distribution to the local population.

Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto said the situation was getting worse. He urged Government agencies to act with speed to avert adverse effects.

Mr Moroto asked the State to task chiefs and their assistants in supplying relief food to affected persons since they were well-informed with their regions and the most affected people.

“Kenya Red Cross has played a major role when disasters occur but I think they will not be able to distribute food to the most affected persons in remote areas,” he said.

West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo said the county government would not meet the target to feed those affected by hunger. He urged the Ministry of Devolution to speed up mitigation efforts.

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Prof Lonyangapuo said the county needed more than 10,000 bags of maize monthly to feed the affected persons.

He also urged the Government to open the National Cereals and Produce Board stores to enable people to buy food from the stores.

Joseah Petakwanga, from Kiwawa Ward in Kacheliba, said livestock had died and that emergency aid was needed.

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hungerprolonged dry seasonTurkana Countyhard-hit by drought