East African Community Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Miano has said that the country is reeling from the worst drought in 40 years due to poor rains for four straight seasons.
Ms Miano who appeared before the Senate plenary sitting in Nairobi, on Wednesday, to answer questions from senators said that the drought situation caused a severe food shortage and wiped out livestock worth billions of shillings.
She explained that the unexplored potential of the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (Asal) is heralded in the hardly tapped livestock value chain in food production using mechanized large-scale irrigation farming, production of green energy, development of the extractive value chain and large-scale greening to counter adverse effects of climate change.
“Even with favourable rains many parts of Kenya have enjoyed lately there are still pockets, particularly within the arid areas that are still targeted for relief supplies, while there are children under the age of five and mothers both expectant and lactating who still need to be cushioned from malnutrition through special relief supplies,” said Miano.
The CS told the Senate that the onset of long rains caused flooding in some Asal regions occasioning the need for humanitarian interventions.
She regretted that instead of concentrating more on harnessing the huge economic potential in the region the country is stuck on fringe matters such as extending aid to people instead of providing Kenyans with economic breakthroughs.
Miano revealed that her ministry uses the list of prequalified contractors to identify appropriate suppliers for various commodities for the relief programme.
She said that the Ministry of Lands, Public Works, Housing and Urban Development through the State Department for Public Works (Supplies Branch Department) prequalifies contractors for the supply of goods and services to various government ministries, departments and agencies every two years.
“It should be noted that the use of direct procurement method was one off choice due to the prevailing circumstances and is therefore not intended to be the preferred method of procurement for the ministry going forward,” said Miano.
Miano said that the ministry did not get allocation for relief supplies in the now-ending financial year and that they have requested for Sh14 billion in the 2023/2024 budget estimates.
Responding to Marsabit Senator Mohammed Chute, the CS told the Senate that they requested funding for the current relief programme through supplementary budget one and were allocated Sh5.2 billion for relief intervention in the second half of the 2022/2023 financial year.
Chute had asked Miano to provide a list of ongoing relief food distribution programmes across the country.
The CS noted that under the humanitarian emergency response programme food and non-food commodities are provided to households affected by various disasters which include; Iron sheets, timber, ridges, nails, mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, Jikos, gas lamps, tents, soaps and sanitary towels.
She said of the 989,120 food-insecure households, each received a 22kg food hamper with 3kg porridge flour, 6kg maize flour, 8kg rice, 3kg beans, 1kg cooking fat and 1kg table salt.
Miano noted that the government has been supporting close to 1 million people in 23 Asal counties and other counties affected by drought.
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