Over 600,000 face hunger as drought hits West Pokot

A boy waits for food at AIC church Kurteswo in Kolowa, Baringo County, on April 25, 2016. More than 600,000 residents in neighbouring West Pokot County are facing acute hunger following drought in the area. PHOTO | CHEBOITE KIGEN | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The Sh50 million promised by the national government to feed the population in the county was yet to be released.
  • Kacheliba MP Mark Lomunokol expressed concern over the drying of water sources which has left many people facing starvation.
  • Huge maize farms that had the potential of producing large harvests withered because of the little rain.

More than 600,000 residents in West Pokot County are facing acute hunger following a severe drought in the area.

Some locals have fled their homes in search of food and water.

West Pokot Deputy Governor Titus Lotee said North and Central Pokot sub-counties were the worst hit and called on the government to help the affected people.

“We have started distributing food but the 4,000 bags of maize is not enough,” he said, calling on humanitarian organisations to help provide relief food to the affected areas.

The Sh50 million promised by the national government to feed the population in the county was yet to be released, said the deputy governor.

According to Mr Lotee, the county government could not afford to fully respond to the situation as it lacked the capacity to provide enough food.

Kacheliba MP Mark Lomunokol expressed concern about the drying of water sources, a situation he said had left an increasing number of people facing starvation.

“There is completely no water in the area as all the water points have dried up. The situation has worsened and there is need for the government to urgently intervene,” he said, adding that food stocks had been depleted.

“The food will not sustain locals till the next harvesting season,” he said.

MAIZE WITHERED

The maize crop that had the potential of producing large harvests withered because of inadequate rain.

The MP appealed to the National Drought Management Authority and other concerned agencies to move with speed and put mitigation measures in place.

Sarimach Primary School headteacher Wilson Lonoki urged the government to urgently send relief food to schools in the area.

He said lack of food would force children to drop out of school.

“Children along the border go to school when there is food. Without food they prefer staying at home. This has really affected education standards in this area despite peace prevailing for a year,” said Mr Lonoki.

Two primary schools, Kasses and Ombolion, have been closed due to lack of food and water and the families have moved to Uganda.

SCHOOLS CLOSED

“Kasses and Ombolion primary schools are now closed. We don’t have food for our children. The prolonged drought has led to crop failure. Children walk more than 15 kilometres looking for water instead of being in class.

“Schools are affected by the situation and we fear that learning could be affected if the situation persists,” Mr Lonoki said.

The worst-hit areas include Kodich, Kacheliba, Suam, Ombolion, Lonyangilem, Kasses, Kapchok, Alale, Kiwawa and Konyao.

Songok Sub-Location assistant chief Joseph Korkimul said the area had not received rain for a while. He expressed fears that they might lose more cattle if the situation continues.

“We are worried we might lose all our cattle due to drought because there is no pasture or water in this area. We have no other place to go with our cattle,” said Mr Korkimul.

He termed the current famine in the area as “beyond control”, adding that locals were lucky to survive on one meal a day.

“This situation on the ground is dire and we ask for a quick intervention to avert a looming disaster,” he said.

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