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No Kenyan will die from starvation, says Gachagua

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

More than 4.2 million Kenyans facing acute food insecurity due to the ongoing drought across 24 counties might soon see better days, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said yesterday.

Speaking after a drought prevention stakeholders meeting in Nairobi, the DP said a partnership between the national and county governments together with international partners will see a drive to pull Kenyans living in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (Asals) from starvation.

“All water agencies across the country have mobilised water bowsers that will be deployed in all areas badly affected to assist in getting water to people and livestock so that we can address the water shortage prevalent in those areas,” said Mr Gachagua.

Similarly, he said plans are underway to have the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) engage in an emergency drilling to have as many boreholes as possible in various parts of the country, with an emphasis on the affected regions.

“The Ministry of Water has given a proposal that we are discussing with the Treasury on how we can obtain more water tanks and also contribute in drilling more boreholes in areas required,” said the DP.

So far, more than 2.4 million livestock that residents of Asal areas, most of whom are pastoralists, rely upon for food and livelihood have died, further sinking the many households into extreme poverty.

To alleviate the locals from the predicament, Gachagua said interventions were underway through a partnership with the Kenya Meat Commission and the Kenya Red Cross Society to purchase livestock from the locals and use the same to feed the starving population.

“We shall purchase livestock for slaughtering and distribution to the needy populations for feeding and at the same time prepare canned beef for distribution to the schools so that our children can go to school without failure,” he said.

Gachagua, who was recently tasked by President William Ruto to coordinate the planning and supervise the implementation of development partner-funded programmes, promised to ensure transparency in collection and distribution of food.

“To enhance transparency and accountability, all food by the national, county governments and development partners will be received and distributed by the country coordinating teams and all that food will be documented from the point of being received up to the distribution,” he said.

The DP attributed the reactive tackling of the drought crisis to poor coordination between the national and county governments and other development partners, resulting in duplication of various interventions.

To stem the problem, all stakeholders will now run as a unit through county steering committees chaired jointly by the governors, county commissioners and all State and non-State actors.

The committees in all affected counties are expected to meet on Tuesday to appraise the situation and identify the needs and interventions required. The findings are to be sent back to the national secretariat at the DP’s office for intervention and supply of relief food.

So far, the government has dispatched relief food to the affected regions to try and alleviate the crisis even as yesterday’s strategies await implementation.