North Eastern MPs have warned that the ongoing drought in the region may force their constituents to skip the forthcoming population census as locals begin migrating to neighbouring counties for water and pastures.
Led by National Assembly Majority Leader and Garissa Town MP Aden Duale, the MPs appealed for urgent food and water supplies amid reports that at least two million people face starvation.
Duale said there was a serious food, water and pasture shortage in the region after April-May long rains failed.
“We ask the national and county governments, and international donors to come to the aid of the people affected by the drought,” said Duale.
He said Kenya National Bureau of Statistics should consider allocating more time for the census in the region due to the migration nature of the pastoral communities.
“As we speak today, some of our people have crossed to Somalia, Ethiopia, and South Sudan in search of pasture and water. KNBS must tell us what they are doing to address the unique situation in northern Kenya while conducting the census exercise,” said Duale.
The appeal comes at the backdrop of a report by a state agency that the number of people facing food shortage was likely to hit two million this month.
The figure is an increase from 1.6 million people in May, according to a report by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA).
Some of the most affected areas are Turkana, Marsabit, Isiolo, Samburu, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, and Tigania West.
“More households now face acute food insecurity levels. In the pastoral north-west more households are in both crisis and emergency food insecurity phase,” says the report.
Speaking under the banner of Pastoralist Parliamentary Group (PPG), the MPs said the situation was dire and requires an urgent response.
“We are concerned about the current biting drought situation and something needs to be done. We are appealing to the Government to intervene and ensure our people have water and food,” said Samburu North MP Alois Lentoimaga.
She said a failure by the government to respond to the needs of the starving families might affect the census slated for August 24 and 25.
“We also call upon Non-Governmental Organisations and United Nations agencies to assist us by providing these basic needs,” said the MP, who is also the chairman of PPG.
Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dulo said learning has also been affected adversely by the drought.
“I know there is a budget under NDMA and the fund should be operationalised so that people living in northern Kenya can benefit from it because it has stagnated due to regulation,” said Dulo.
Isiolo County Woman Rep Jaldesa said it was time drought is declared a national disaster.
“I also request that the census be done in consultation with all the stakeholders because it’s not a must that exercise be carried out in August because it’s the time when our people migrate in search of pasture,” said Jaldesa.
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