Executive Office of the Deputy President of Republic of Kenya
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua with East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Development Rebecca Miano and coastal political leaders during the 6th KIPPRA Annual Conference in Pwani University, Kilifi County. Makori Onuong’a /DPCS

The Government will prioritise investment in the arid and semi-arid lands for food security, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has said.

Speaking during the 6th Annual Conference of the Kenya Institute of Public Policy and Research Analysis (KIPPRA) at Pwani University, Kilifi County, Mr Gachagua said the ASALs have the potential of solving the food crisis in the country.

“The future of our country is in arid and semi-arid lands. We are seeking partnership in investments to plug the food deficit to a surplus. The dry lands are the panacea to our food security,” the Deputy President said.

Mr Gachagua said the current resilience initiatives, led by the counties and international partners will be enhanced through strong consultative development frameworks underpinned by policies.

“ASALs are vast and fertile, we are opening up the infrastructure and enhancing security; what is missing is water,” he said.

As the government constructs and improves the infrastructure such as dams, boreholes, water pans, among others, Mr Gachagua asked the KIPPRA to identify policy gaps for sound proposals to ground interventions.

“At the end of this conference, we expect proposals. We are ready to engage on those proposals for possible implementation,” he said.

He said several trials on farming in the Northern counties have shown that with the right infrastructure, crops are a viable option to increasing food security alongside pastoralism.

“Arid and Semi-Arid Land covers 29 out of the 47 counties, which are home to about 38% of our population.  Our people are in or are exposed to poverty, hunger, thirst and related challenges. There is no dignity in inability to meet the basic needs of the family,” Mr Gachagua said.

The counties of Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu have a combined coastline of over 500km from Vanga to Kiunga along the Indian Ocean, he said. While the Ocean meets up to 80% of the needs of the families in the ASAL counties, they can produce more.

“In collaboration with partners, we have launched a number of equipment for deep sea fishing. More can be done,” the Deputy President said.

In mitigating the impact of climate change, the Deputy President said various measures to eliminate the use of firewood and charcoal are being instituted.

“We have zero-rated taxation on cooking gas for households,” he said