The government on Saturday rolled out countrywide relief food distribution to the most vulnerable communities as the country continues to grapple with the effects of prolonged drought and consecutive failed rainy seasons that have put millions of lives at risk.
President William Ruto kicked off the exercise at Nakalale in Turkana County before heading to Baragoi in Samburu.
At the same time, his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, was in Kajiado County where he sent out an appeal to the public, private and international partners and humanitarian agencies to support the government in raising more than Ksh16 billion for emergency food relief response.
Speaking during the launch in Kajiado that targeted more than 300,000 residents of the county at Ilbisil Market, the Deputy President said the government requires some Ksh2billion weekly to ensure no Kenyan dies of famine. He said the government has KSh4.9 billion for food over the next two weeks only.
“We appeal to the banks, private sector, international humanitarian organisations, and Kenyans of good will to assist us. It is wrong for fellow Kenyans to die of hunger when you have the means of saving them,” the Deputy President said.
DP Gachagua thanked international humanitarian agencies and the partners for their support so far. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP country representative Anthony Ngororano, France Ambassador Mr Arnaud Suquet, Ireland Ambassador Fionnuala Quinanm were in attendance. He also thanked the representatives of WFP, FAO, UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs, UNICEF, among others.
The Deputy President urged county governments to set aside funds to complement the national government efforts in responding to the food emergency. He assured Kenyans that the government will do all it takes so that no Kenyan dies of famine.
In addition, he challenged the private sector and international development partners to support the government in sustainable solutions to climate change and improving food security going forward.
“We must come up with pragmatic solutions and roadmaps on food security in future. We must shift from rainfed agriculture to irrigation,” DP Gachagua said.
During the launch more than 45 metric tonnes of food was distributed with at least 3,000 households receiving rice and beans as well as 100kgs of range cubes of livestock feeds.
He directed that women, children, the youth and people living with disabilities be prioritised during the food distribution programs.
While some was distributed at Ilbissil in coordination with the Kenya Red Cross team and the county government, the food would also benefit other families at the sub-counties, wards and villages to ensure most vulnerable groups such as the elderly, expectant and breastfeeding mothers and the sick also benefit.
At least 600,000 residents of Kajiado County are food insecure while over 300,000 need emergency support.
On the other hand, more than 290,000 cattle and about 1 million goats and sheep require emergency relief food in this region, which is one of the 23 counties in the arid and semi-arid areas.
In a seperate event while flagging off hay and an assortment of animal feeds for wildlife in Manyatta, Amboseli, the Deputy President announced that the government has set a aside Ksh100 million to feed wild animals whose populations are also being decimated by the ongoing drought.
The government also pledged an additional Ksh200million to be provided in the coming weeks adding that the money will be managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service.
“Our wildlife is under threat from the drought. It is a national treasure and provides abundant pride for our country. We will do everything possible to protect our national treasure,” said DP Gachagua.
The DP said tourism is a major foreign exchange earner for the country and that the administration will make sure it is not affected by the ongoing drought.
“We are grateful for the feeding initiatives. Wildlife is the backbone of our economy. We will work with the national Government to protect our people and wildlife,” the Governor said.
He was accompanied by Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku who thanked the Government for the quick response to the severe drought since taking power in September.
The distribution drive also saw Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi leading distribution efforts in Machakos, while Cabinet Secretaries Moses Kuria, Kipchumba Murkomen, Aden Duale, Alice Wahome, Salim Mvurya, Mithika Linturi and Peninah Malonza were in Machakos, Kieni (Nyeri), Marsabit, Garissa, Habaswein (Wajir), Voi in Taita Taveta.
First Lady Rachel Ruto and Pastor Dorcas Rigathi, DP Rigathi Gachagua’s wife, jointly distributed food in Nairobi’s informal settlements of Mukuru Kaiyaba in Embakasi and Kahawa Soweto in Kasarani.