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66,600 at risk of starvation in arid Pokot district

BUSINESS
By | August 8th 2011

By KARANJA NJOROGE

Relief agencies in East Pokot District are struggling to provide food to the high number of starving residents.

East Pokot DC Amos Mariba said that about half of the 133,000 people in the area currently rely on relief food.

"The rising need for relief has forced us to increase the number of people receiving food from 23,600 to 66,600 which is basically half of the population," he added.

Some of the areas worst hit by the drought include Nginyang, Mondi, Tangulbei, Chulo and Kolowa.

The area has over the years been hit by persistent drought and early this year famine-related deaths were reported.

The DC, however, said that nobody had died as a result of hunger in the area.

Mariba said that the rough terrain is hampering food distribution by relief agencies to some areas in the district.

"There are no roads and taking food to those in need is problematic," the DC said.

Mariba admitted that the food rations being supplied are inadequate and could not properly feed the high number of starving residents.

Local leaders said that most of the relief food from the Government is not reaching the residents and the process of distribution is shrouded in secrecy.

Baringo County Council Vice-chairman Peter Lokorimoi said local leaders should be involved in committees charged with distributing food in the area.

In the dark

"Currently, we only have members of the provincial administration undertaking the distribution and we are in the dark," Lokorimoi who represents Silale Ward in East Pokot said.

Lokorimoi the incorporation of local leaders in the distribution would avoid arousing suspicion from residents. His sentiments were echoed by councillor Daniel Tuwit of Chemulingot.

The DC said food distribution centres have been established at health centres and dispensaries in the area.

Mariba said all the health centres in the area are providing children under five with nutritious food to curb malnutrition.

Residents said the drought situation has been made worse by the drying up of Chemerily, Cheselybion, Kasikion, Tuwo, Kadingding, Lokiwach, Kangoria dams, which they rely on for water.

Low livestock prices have not helped the matters much. Canon Christopher Choichoi who is in-charge of Nginyang Anglican Church said that many people have moved from the area in search of food.

"We have been having an unusually low number of people coming for service as most are not in the area having moved in search of food," Choichoi said.

He cautioned that if the drought persists, children might not go back to schools in September.

"We have people already moving towards Loruk near Marigat and the movement may interfere with the reopening of schools," he added.

Canon Choichoi said relief food provided by the Government is barely enough. "Though most residents are grateful for the food it is inadequate and should be increased," he said.

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