Drought-stricken families in West Pokot to receive Sh5,000 stipend

FAO Deputy Director-General Beth Bechdol together with colleagues and locals in Moyale, where she visited to assess the drought situation in Kenya. [Standard]

At least 2,723 households affected by the ongoing drought in West Pokot are set to benefit from a Sh5,000 cash transfer courtesy of the Kenya Red Cross.

The programme supported by the Italian Agency Cooperation is set to cover Akiriamet, Sekerrot, Cheptulel, Sarmach, and Arpollo.

West Pokot is among 23 counties experiencing severe drought and has witnessed renewed inter-community conflicts as communities fight for scarce water and pasture.

Kenya Red Cross North Rift Region Coordinator Michael Ayiabei said they are distributing relief food along the border of West Pokot and Turkana targeting more than 37,000 households.

“We have lots of challenges related to drought, and we are appealing to well-wishers to also help. The programme of cash transfer will run for three months,” he said.

He said the cash transfer would cushion locals from hunger and enable them to buy food items.

Their focus is on areas hard-hit by drought and where people have been displaced.

Ayiabei said drought disrupted patterns, and they were helping communities to have community-based disease surveillance to depict early signs of diseases.

“Most locals depend on livestock, but we are training them on agriculture and provide basic seeds for them for farming,” he said.

He said the communities faced so many challenges due to water and pasture shortages, leading to inter-community conflict.

“We are also supporting rain-fed or irrigation agriculture, although the projects are sometimes affected by bad weather conditions,” he said.

Area Governor John Lonyangapuo, while flagging off the donations at his residence, said the county experienced crop failure, and that locals needed food.

He said the drought has resulted in a conflict zone as locals scramble for the little resources along with the border points of West Pokot County and other neighbouring counties.

Prof Lonyangapuo appealed to the national government to supply more food to hard-hit areas to avert skirmishes.

“Along the border of West Pokot and Turkana we had experienced total calm and peace for close to five years, but the conflict has now resurfaced,” he said.

He was grateful to Red Cross for the donations, saying the affected county residents really needed the foodstuff.

“My people don't have maize. We have received rice and beans. Well-wishers should help us,” he said.

The governor said 70 per cent to 80 per cent of families had been affected by drought and food shortage.