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Government to start yet another round of relief food distribution

 EAC CS Rebecca Miano (left) and Correctional Services PS Mary Muthoni Muriuki display liquid soap manufactured by prisoners, January 23, 2023. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

A number of Cabinet secretaries will from today begin distributing relief food in counties badly hit by drought.

A recent report by the Ministry of East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (Asals) said an estimated six million people in 32 counties were facing acute food shortage.

The data includes 4.4 million people in the 23 Asal counties and 0.5 million in nine non-Asal counties.

Asal CS Rebecca Miano and her Education counterpart Ezekiel Machogu will lead the intervention that will cover 32 counties.

President William Ruto's spokesman Hussein Mohamed said the latest intervention is meant to ensure that no Kenyan dies starvation.

"This will become our sixth consecutive poor rainfall stretch. The prevailing situation sends a strong signal that the drought is likely to persist for the better part of this year," said Hussein.

The president's spokesman said there will be two teams, one led by Ms Miano and another by Dr Machogu with the programmes running concurrently, where each team to cover three counties per day.

The counties in the programme include Marsabit, which has drifted into emergency drought phase, and Kilifi, Mandera, Samburu, Turkana, Wajir, Isiolo, Kitui and Kajiado - classified under alarm phase.

Others are Lamu, Narok, Tana River, Makueni, Embu, Baringo, Laikipia, Meru, Taita-Taveta, West Pokot, Nyeri and Kwale, that have been captured as belonging to the alert drought phase.

Last week, Cabinet approved the appropriation of a further Sh4 billion for scaling up of drought response interventions, weeks after the government released Sh2 billion for relief food distribution.

Miano noted that the government will distribute food hampers to 53,400 households, livestock feeds and water. Other interventions include water trucking, provision of water tanks, provision of fuel subsidy to strategic boreholes, and repair and rehabilitation of water facilities.

"Food distribution is ongoing in Kilifi, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Turkana, Wajir, Isiolo, Kajiado, West Pokot, Baringo, Kwale, Tana River, Laikipia, Taita-Taveta, Garissa, Lamu and Elgeyo Marakwet. The State Department for Asals has delivered a total of 103,460 50kg bags of rice and 53,900 50kg bags of beans to the counties," said Ms Miano.

She noted that the National Steering Committee on Drought Response will this week distribute food hampers to 53,400 households (about 340,000 people) in Mandera, Wajir, Turkana Marsabit, Isiolo, Samburu, Kilifi, Kajiado and Kitui counties.

"Each food hamper contains 3kg uji flour, 6kg maize meal, 3kg beans, 8kg rice, 1kg cooking fat and 1kg of salt. Food distribution will continue for the next three weeks to cover all Asal counties and the pockets affected in non-ASAL counties," said Ms Miano.

Under the National Drought Management Authority, 67,000 50kg bags of livestock feeds have been earmarked for Marsabit, Isiolo, Kajiado, Kitui, Makueni, Mandera, Wajir, Turkana and Garissa. Delivery of the feeds started last month and is still ongoing. This intervention is funded from the National Drought Emergency Fund and the European Union.

Miano noted that her ministry was working closely with the Ministry of Interior to ensure that relief assistance reaches the intended people.

"In the next five days we will visit 10 counties - that is Marsabit, Wajir, Mandera, Samburu, Baringo, Turkana, Kajiado, Kilifi, Kwale and Tana River - to monitor the impact of drought and status of drought response interventions by government and partners," said Ms Miano.

Hussein noted that Sh6.5 billion will be for food assistance, Sh2.3 billion for water interventions and Sh1.3 billion for livestock feeding, offtakes and veterinary services.

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