County in dire need of relief food

Leaders from Isiolo County have appealed for food aid with more than 100,000 residents staring at famine, while 18 per cent of children aged below 5 years were also malnourished, following persistent drought.

Subsequently, a technical team from the County Steering Group (CSG) and the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) has embarked on rapid assessment of food situation in the area.

A CSG meeting chaired by Isiolo Governor, Dr. Mohamed Kuti on Monday and attended by members drawn from the national government, non-governmental organizations and civil society groups expressed need for food support.

The members of the technical team have embarked on a two-day food situation assessment exercise in the County so as to determine the extent of the drought effects, especially after the failure of last October-December short rains.

Dr. Kuti said the team should carry out a thorough investigation so that details of the report to be announced on Friday are authentic, quoting the actual estimates of amount of food and money to cope with the menace.

However, he said, no resident would die of hunger but the situation may call for special attention for the County, if the affected areas do not receive adequate rainfall within the next one month.

The governor affirmed that up to 20% of children below the age of five are the most affected due to lack of milk, noting that these children either have stunted growth, or are suffering from acute malnutrition.

He asserted that both the County and National governments need to move with speed and salvage the situation after the County steering group avails the crucial report and recommendations on Friday.

The governor said that the report would also help to lobby for support from various donors since massive resources would be required to ensure that food for human consumption and livestock feeds were sustainable in the long term, especially if the rains expected in March failed.

Dr. Kuti said that the County government was already carrying out water trucking in the affected areas to help mitigate the drought effects on both people and livestock.

He noted that herders from various communities and even neighbouring counties have now converged at Kom area, leading to fears of conflicts which usually happened every time there was influx of animals in search of water and pasture.

According to the County Coordinator for National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), Lordman Lekalkuli, some areas in Sericho, Cherab and Oldonyiro wards have not received any rainfall for over a year.

This has consequently led to the worrying situation of acute shortage of milk which children rely on for food. The residents here are basically pastoralists and several of their animals have succumbed to the drought situation, he said.

He said at least 103, 000 people across the County were in dire need of food, which has affected education with children moving away from schools to be closer to their livestock, as herders move in search of water and pasture.

The coordinator added that the drought had also affected the transition rate of pupils from primary to secondary schools, as the emaciated animals do not fetch good prices in the market.

Source: Kenya News Agency