Mandera County residents are in dire straits due to the raging famine with over 400,000 men, women and children at risk of starvation.
Their plight has also caught the attention of President William Ruto, who has made a worldwide appeal for help. And during a recent international press conference, Mandera Governor Mohamed Adan Khalif laid bare the extent of the drought due to the lack of rains for four consecutive years.
Today, nearly Sh2 billion is required to provide emergency interventions especially for the most vulnerable parts of the population. Failure of October-November rains as projected by the Met Department is a red flag that it may become worse.
It is heartbreaking to see carcasses of starved livestock strewn in the large but semi-arid landscape of this county and as a section of the media reported there are many elderly granny pastoralists like Adey Abdi who has but just two of her original 11 heads of cattle remaining and risk losing all; unless something is done quickly.
Statistics released by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) bear a sorry state with cumulative livestock deaths since January to date standing at 495,169 goats, 365,283 cattle, 160,721 camels, sheep and 29,314 donkeys.
There’s no doubt that the perennial drought requires a long-lasting solution based on modern water management technological applications including damming, drip irrigation, sinking more boreholes and rainwater harvesting.
Additionally, the Kenya Meat Commission can swiftly redouble its efforts to buy cattle, goats and camels at highly discounted rates instead of leaving the livestock to starve to death through the livestock off-take programme. Food aid is critical to mitigating human suffering in Mandera and the county government is providing 2 million litres of water daily, which is just a fraction of the water needs of the 92 villages, 41 boarding schools and 312 ECDE centres.
The national exams are around the corner and critical intervention for the school children for food and water cannot be overemphasized. Obviously, lack of water and food has resulted to malnutrition since the beginning of the year and diseases hitherto preventable in the absence of drought and this is calling for emergency medical supplies and formula. Importantly, there’s need for a mass cash transfer programme for households to mitigate hunger that has seen families going without food for days and Red Cross, COCOP, Racida and many other non-state actors are complementing what the government is doing. As it is, a number of livestock requires supplementary feeds, treatment and water in the county including 1,365,841 goats, 452,724 cattle, 386,448 camel, 333,260 sheep, and donkeys 105,660.
Parliament must double the drought mitigation fund provided for through NDMA especially the fact that neighbouring countries Ethiopia and Somalia whose people are crossing into Mandera stretching facilities the people of Mandera need more and now!
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The writer is Mandera Deputy Governor