MPs want food crisis declared a disaster

Senate majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen has blamed the situation on failure to distribute food across the country properly. [Photo, Standard]

Lawmakers expressed outrage over thousands of people left starving in at least 12 counties following a prolonged dry spell.

Questions were raised over how billions of shillings are used to alleviate hunger, and the commitment of the national and county governments to decisively deal with the disaster.

Senators also unanimously requested President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare drought a national disaster and immediately deploy the military to the affected areas to mitigate the crisis.

On Monday, Deputy president, William Ruto said that the Government has allocated Sh14 billion to deal with the effects of the drought.

Counties affected are Samburu, Marsabit, Garissa, Isiolo, Manderal, Wajir, Baringo, Kilifi, Tana River, West Pokot, Makueni, Kajiado and Kwale.

Stinging criticism

During the debate in Parliament, county governments came under stinging criticism for turning a blind eye as effects of the drought continue to bite.

Caleb Amisi (Saboti) termed it shameful that there is food in some agriculturally endowed counties, while the rest of the country is starving.

“It is so shameful that 40 years down the line, we still are grappling with the same challenges we had at independence," said Mr Amisi.

"The images of emaciated people in Baringo, Turkana and other counties in a nation that is well endowed with natural resources is something that this nation needs to worry about.”

Minority leader, John Mbadi (Suba South) asked the country’s leadership to take responsibility for failure to deal with the situation in good time.

At the Senate, while contributing to an adjournment motion sponsored by Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula, Senators called for speedy action by the State.

Mr Wetangula said the crisis is happening as farmers in the bread basket areas are stuck with their abundant produce that they cant sell.

Senate majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen blamed the situation on failure to distribute food across the country properly.

Senator Sam Ongeri (Kisii) dismissed the Government's rapid response as a cosmetic move, while minority leader James Orengo reproached the Government for trying to downplay the impact of the drought.

“It is a matter of fact people are dying of famine and hunger in Turkana,” said Mr Orengo.