Top Stories / National
Monday, 13 Feb 2017 18:23 EATdmutua@kenyafreepress.com
The current drought already declared a national disaster by President Uhuru Kenyatta is not coming to an end soon after the weathermen announced today that little rains are expected during the March-May long rains. Kenya Meteorological Department acting director Peter Ambenje said food security situation is expected to deteriorate over most parts of the country, especially the northern areas.
“Water scarcity is also expected to continue while the current problem of malnutrition may be on increase in the same areas. We are not out of the woods yet. The distribution of the seasonal rainfall, both in time and space, is expected to be generally poor over most parts of the country. Sunny and dry weather conditions will be dominant over North Eastern and the Coastal regions in March but a pickup in rainfall is likely to occur over Western Kenya”, he said.
Mr Ambenje however warned that flooding may occur in parts such as Budalangi, in Western Kenya. He said Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Trans Nzoia, Baringo, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Nandi and Laikipia counties will start receiving rain in the second to third weeks of March and that this will continue into June.
“The Southern parts of the Rift Valley and Central Highlands will have onsets of rain from the third to fourth weeks of March. This will continue until the first three to four weeks of May,” Mr Ambenje added. These areas include Narok, Kajiado, Nairobi, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang'a, Kiambu, Meru, Embu, and Tharaka.
Nakuru will receive rain from the third to fourth weeks of March until June while it will rain in the south eastern counties from the third and fourth weeks of March until the second and third weeks of May. Wajir, Garissa, Mandera and Marsabit will generally be dry in March but it will rain there from the first and second weeks of April until the beginning of May.
Several families in Rift valley and Turkana areas have ended up eating wild fruits, roots and leaves for their survival due to lack of food and water in their areas. In West Pokot, locals are boiling leaves of trees which they use as vegetables even as the county records increased cases of malnutrition. The residents chew the leaves and roots without even washing or boiling them due to lack of water since the surrounding rivers and streams have dried up completely.
“We are forced to eat the fruits without cleaning them because there is no water. We are faced with more problems when we get stomach problems because health facilities are far away and even when you get there, most of the dispensaries have no drugs," says Kotokil Chepurayi.
The Government has asked for help from the private sector to deal with drought and handle man-made and natural disasters. Speaking on Wednesday February 8th during a Government-private sector engagement on disaster risk management in Nairobi, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery said the state had developed a policy on reducing all disasters.
Kizito Temba, a personal assistant to Water Services Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, said public-private partnerships are the only sustainable model of funding for irrigation plans, and the budget cuts do not spell doom for them. Mr Nkaissery asked Governors to donate more funds to help in cubing food drought saying that the 1 million each county pledged is not enough in fighting drought in the affected areas.
In Turkana County, National Irrigation Board (NIB) is managing the Katilu scheme, which began in 1970 but came to a halt after the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization pulled out. Using water from River Turkwel, NIB rehabilitated the scheme in 2011. From an initial 500 acres, it has increased to 2,200 acres, growing maize, sorghum and green grams. The secretary of the irrigation scheme, Yohana Ekidor, said in the current season, farmers are expecting to harvest about 30,000 bags of maize each, up from 10,000 bags in 2015. Plans to extend the scheme are underway, as locals compete for farming space.
In Tiaty Constituency in Baringo County, there is no sign of a man in most homes after they left their families behind in search of food and water. Some men as said to have kept of their homes because they don't want to witness their children, and livestock, die of hunger. Breastfeeding mothers and children are hardest hit. Women are forced to give their children empty baby bottles to sooth them.
Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a partnership on disaster mitigation. Kepsa CEO Carole Kariuki said the partnership would facilitate wealth creation. "Disasters interrupt the continuous social and economic growth of a country. Human life is interrupted and the private sector is unable to create wealth and jobs," she said. The joint initiative is expected to reduce the nation's vulnerability to catastrophes, establish a coordinated approach to disaster management and reduce disaster risk.
With a lot of citizens experiencing unfavorable conditions in various parts of the country due to lack of food and water, Kenyans are waiting to see what the government is planning to help the affected areas like Turkana, Rift Valley areas and other arid areas. Many people lose their lives daily due to lack of water and food, hence there is allocated budget for Drought and hanger in the Government. The question remains to be, what are the measures government is taking to aid drought crisis?