Turkana governor appeals for UN intervention over biting drought

Turkana and most northern parts of Kenya is grappling with drought.  [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai has appealed to United Nations (UN) agencies to support the ongoing emergency response initiatives over biting drought in the region.

Mr Lomorukai said the county and the rest of the horn of Africa were facing worsening drought.

“The Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) levels in the county stand at 34.8 per cent due to the biting drought higher than recommended WHO levels. We have appealed to the President to declare the drought a national emergency because close to 98 per cent of our population is affected,” he said.

The governor was speaking when he met the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in sub-office Kakuma, yesterday, who was on a tour of the region to inspect the United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) programme.

The meeting highlighted the emergency drought response mechanism and other humanitarian crisis following worsening drought situation in the region.

The governor lauded the UNHCR and agencies for developing social infrastructure that has improved the livelihoods of the host communities, especially in Kakuma and Kalobeyei.

He noted that the Turkana community has played a great role for host refugees for over 30 years and they will continue to support refugee operations in the county and provide more land for expansion. 

The governor said that the Turkana should benefit from programmes meant for the host community, including employment opportunities and other social infrastructure projects.

He noted that many refugee programmes were being implemented in the region and the impact on the ground should match the size of investments.

The county boss also urged that partner projects be extended to other regions of Turkana as the challenges faced were similar across the county. 

Mr Grandi promised that the UN agencies will work together with the county government in development programmes.  

“These visits goes to stress how important our work with you is in this region of Kenya, as one of the countries hosting refugees. In Turkana, we are implementing one of the most innovative models of refugee support in the whole world,” he said.

The UN boss lauded the county government for continuing to host refugees and providing protection to those displaced by war in South Sudan and other countries.

“I understand the burden of hosting refugees in the region. However, the pilot refugee host community integration programme was meant to ensure refugee support will create an opportunity for the host community to benefit from the programmes,” he said.

He said the  IFC Kakuma- Kalobeyei Challenge Fund (KKCF) programme is meant to boost private sector investment and unlock the economic potential of refugees and host communities.

The High Commissioner assured the governor of his support for drought emergency response and promised to convey a message to the president on the severity of the situation.

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