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165,800 people face starvation in Coast

 Coast region has over 165,800 people severely affected by drought.

The most affected counties are Tana River, Kwale and Kilifi which are historically food scarce.

National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) indicated yesterday that 60,300 people in Ganze, Magarini and Kaloleni sub-counties of Kilifi are facing extreme food shortages blamed on poor rains, harvest and long droughts.

According to Devolution and Asal Ministry Chief Administrative Secretary, Mr Hussein Dadho,Kilifi County is the worst affected with 60,300 people affected followed by Tana River with 59,700 and Kwale county with 45,800 of its population affected by drought.

The official said that the Government has stepped in to ensure that it mitigates against hunger and that funding to cushion masses against hunger have now been made available for that purpose.

Dado who toured Tana River on Monday which is one of the counties that are badly affected by drought said that relief food would be made available to affected families.

He said that a total of 14 counties have been hard hit by the disaster countrywide.

He said the Government had already begun supplying relief food to the areas worst hit in Turkana county where there are reported cases of deaths as a result of the disaster.

“Following the availability of funds, we shall be dispatching relief food to all those affected,'' he said.

Dado said he the Ministry will be touring Tana River County on March 22 to distribute relief food.

“We are committed as a Government to ensure that no lives are lost as a result of hunger,'' he said.

Meanwhile, the government official said that they are working with the Ministry of Water and Sanitation to conduct surveys in Tana River to ensure boreholes are dug and water is accessible.

Bangale ward member of county assembly, Mr Ibrahim Sala said that his ward in Tana North is the worst hit with residents lacking water for domestic use and livestock.

A 20 litre jerrican of water is retailing for Sh50 calling on the national and county government to respond and provide water and food to the residents.

Tana River Senator, Mr Juma Wario called on the national government to intervene and support the victims affected by the drought.

He said those affected particularly in Tana River County were in dire need of water and food.

On Tuesday, Deputy President, Dr William Ruto announced that the government had released over Sh14 billion to help in mitigating the effects of droughts that has ravaged a number of counties in the nation.

The DP said that the money includes Sh12.4 billion  that will be wired to affected persons through a cash transfer plan that will enable them buy food  and Sh2 billion for relief food and water.

Kilifi County has appealed to the National government to help arrest the hunger situation in the County.

Meanwhile the Kilifi county government has declared a food scarcity alert and started a distribution of relief food since last month.

However according to  Kilifi County Chief officer for Devolution and Disaster management Aden Mohamed the statics by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) that indicated 60,300 people from Ganze,Magarini and Kaloleni are in dire need of food Mohamed said the County is not able to give relief food to all the affected persons due to financial challenges.

Speaking in his office Mohamed said though the County has controlled the hunger situation.

“We are not at the alarming stage. The situation is under control since we anticipated that our people will starve and we started distributing food in February. We are issued 3500 bags of maize and over 1000 bags of beans to 30,000 people at a cost of shs 30million,”said Mohamed.

Bamba location in Ganze Constituency is mostly affected in Jila, Bandari, Rimara Pera, Goshi and Mariango.

Kayafungo, Tsangatsini and Mwanamwinga locations are critically affected in Kaloleni ward and whole of Magarini Constituency.

According to Mohamed, the department has Sh4 million in the disaster management kitty. But they have submitted a budget of Sh70 million in the Supplementary budget which is expected to be released in the next three weeks.

With the high numbers of people in need of food and water Sh110 million is needed to feed the 60,000 people with 20kgs of beans and 10kgs of beans. This adds up to 13,000 bags of Maize and 4000 beans for one month.

“We don’t know how the drought will go and this money will not be enough for us. We are asking the National Government to come and support us address this situation,” he said.

The Chief Officer said the department has conducted another assessment that showed that there is need for sustainability of the food and water distribution.

On Wednesday, the department will hold a meeting with all stakeholders including Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to come up with proper interventions on how to address the situation.

 “We want to bring everyone on board in order to avoid duplication of work. We want to conduct another assessment on livestock to establish whether there is enough pasture and water and come up will best plans to avoid farmers losing them as what has been happening in the past,” he said.

Kayafungo MCA Alphonce Mwayaa told the Standard that most water pans and watering points for livestock have dried up and the situation is expected to be extreme with the delay in the rains.

He said this has forced residents to scramble for water with their livestock.

Mnyenzeni, Ndatani, Kinagoni and Miyani areas in the ward have been affected.

“We had poor rains and this affected our crop harvests in many parts of Kaloleni.But the herders will be affected most because there is no water and pasture for their livestock. They also depend on charcoal burning which is not working since they have exhausted all the trees,” said Mwayaa.

He added: The herders are afraid of losing their cows to drought and some are thinking of selling them before they encounter losses. For now since the pastures are dry and animals are emaciated, they are going to buy grass from private farms. Survival has become very tough for families. I raised the alarm and we got food from the County Government which was not enough.

Ganze Deputy County Commissioner Richard Karani said the people have started feeling the effects of drought though the situation is not alarming.

"It’s not worst but there is no food and water.Crops and water is drying up but we have already issued the alert for interventions," said Karani.

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