No one will die of hunger, CS assures Kenyans

The Government will not let any Kenyan die from hunger as a result of the ongoing drought gripping most parts of the country.

The Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Devolution and Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL), Eugene Wamalwa has given the assurance that the government has put in place measures to protect Kenyans from the effects of droughts and already, intervention measures were underway to mitigate the situation.

It is the government’s priority, he said, to ensure Kenyans produce enough food and that they do not starve.

The CS noted that food security is human rights’ issue, enshrined in Article 43 of the Constitution thus Kenyans have the right to be free from hunger.

Wamalwa said he would revive the water distribution programme to drought-affected areas which was launched last year besides constructing boreholes to ensure there was enough water for livestock.

We are disbursing adequate relief food to counties facing famine to ensure no one starves, he told journalists at the port of Mombasa. There is enough rice to last the country beyond the month of March, he said.

He noted that his Ministry, in conjunction with relevant agencies, was preparing long-term contingency policies to save lives by investing in farming, water harvesting and irrigation.

The CS announced that the government would be spending Sh.3.8 billion between January and April this year to buy maize, beans and other food commodities from local farmers to alleviate the effects of the drought.

Wamalwa, who was in a tour of the Coast region to supervise the distribution of relief food to drought victims, announced that the government would also release three million bags of maize held at the strategic food reserve to the most affected counties.

He said last week, China which is the world’s largest producer of rice, shipped in 90,000 bags of and a further 55,000 bags of the commodity to Kenya to help tackle the food insecurity.

The CS said he visited Kwale, Kilifi and Tana River counties in a span of two days to ensure food reaches those facing hunger and warned government officials against diverting food meant for famine relief to their own interests.

Wamalwa, who was accompanied by ASAL areas Principal Secretary (PS), Micah Powon, and his Devolution Counterpart, Nelson Marwa, said the relief food would go a long way in alleviating hunger in drought affected regions.

He identified the worst hit counties as Turkana, Lamu, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Isiolo, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir and Kilifi.

He also announced that school feeding programmes have been initiated in worst hit areas, adding that school feeding helps keep children in school during times of crisis.

The CS said Kenya would in the foreseeable future have enough food, thanks to the dams and irrigation projects coming up across the country.

According to the Minister, the crisis currently affects approximately 3.4 million people, mostly in the ASAL regions who were in need of food aid.

Kenya has the potential of becoming a food surplus country because of the huge irrigation projects coming up, he said.

He cited the Galana-Kulalu food security project at the Coast, the Thiba Dam in Kirinyaga County to irrigate rice fields, the Ahero irrigation scheme in Kisumu, and the Bunyala irrigation scheme in Busia.

The Galana-Kulalu project in Kilifi County is a key feature of the Jubilee government’s manifesto on ensuring food security and move the country away from rain-fed agriculture.

These irrigation schemes and dam projects is central to government plans to ensure there is sufficient food in the country, he said.

Wamalwa noted that with the projects, Kenya would soon be removed from the list of food insecure nations of the world to a food surplus country.

The CS said food security was among President Uhuru Kenyatta’s four key agenda items during his second five-year term.

The other items he added were the provision of universal health care, affordable housing and manufacturing sector.

He said the national focus is on food production, strategic reserve of agricultural produce and access to food in a bid to eliminate hunger.

Source: Kenya News Agency