Led by Mandera Senator Ali Roba, they say current interventions inadequate

Senators drawn from arid and semi-arid areas now want the government to declare the ongoing drought a national disaster.

They say the move will prompt the right response to the phenomenon that has left over 5 million facing starvation.  

Led by Mandera County Senator Ali Roba, they are at the same time calling on non-State actors to immediately intervene to salvage the situation.

“The assistance we are currently receiving is inadequate to cater for the needs of the hunger-stricken families,” noted the Senators who spoke at the sidelines of a seminar co-hosted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association which kicked off in Mombasa Wednesday morning.

“Interventions from the government has been insufficient. We want the government to step up the fight,” they added while calling on the government to immediately carry out an assessment that depict the current drought situation.

At the same time, the Senators called on county governments in the affected areas to realign their budgets in order to feed locals who are in dire need of food.

They expressed the sentiments barely two days after Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua announced that the government has set aside Ksh. 2 billion for immediate response to the raging drought and famine in the country.

Gachagua who presided over a consultative meeting on the drought situation in the country at his Harambee House Annex office last Monday, asked the ministries and government agencies to include other partners in the response to avoid duplication of roles in combating the drought that has affected more than 5.3 million people.

“We have a responsibility to save lives and livelihoods,” the DP told the meeting, which included Cabinet Secretaries, Prof Kithure Kindiki (Interior), Mithika Linturi (Agriculture), Rebecca Miano (Arid and Semi-Arid Lands) and Peninah Malonza (Tourism) and other top government officers.

The Deputy President who who called for consolidation of public and private sector interventions, said the response is urgent even as it seeks a long-term solution.

Under the plan, which is part of the ongoing immediate responses, agencies like the Kenya Defence Forces, Kenya Meat Commission, the Kenya Wildlife Services, the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), and the Kenya Meteorological Department were tasked with working with key ministries to identify and mitigate the drought effects.

To date, various mitigation efforts have been deployed to the most affected parts of the country.

These include the distribution of relief food, the trucking of water to those in need, the drilling and rehabilitation of boreholes, and a livestock offset programme that was spearheaded by the Kenya Meat Commission with the support of the Kenya Red Cross.

The interventions, alongside others such as the scaling up of the Hunger Safety Net Programme by NDMA and the School Feeding Programme championed by the Ministry of Education, have all provided some relief to the most affected populations.

Data from NDMA shows that at least 4.35 million people in 23 counties are facing starvation with another 846,000 in nine additional counties in need of assistance. Between September 2022 and January 2023, the government spent at least Ksh 3.2 billion in emergency responses.

Additional reporting by Beth Nyaga

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