State disburses 1.1bn to drought-stricken families in 4 counties

Hunger stricken residents of Illeret village in Marsabit county earlier this year.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi I Nation Media Group

The government has disbursed Sh1.1 billion to cushion poor and vulnerable families in Turkana, Wajir, Mandera and Garissa counties from ravaging drought.

The Sh1.1 billion is to be channelled through the Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) implemented by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA).

Of the money, Sh638.6 million will benefit an additional 58,000 households in the four counties, with each getting Sh2,700 under the “drought shock responsive cash transfer programme”.

NDMA chief executive Lt-Col (Rtd) Hared Hassan Adan said Mandera and Marsabit, with over 37,000 beneficiaries, will receive Sh108 million and Sh101 million respectively, while Wajir, with at least 17,000, will get Sh97 million.

Turkana, with over 35,000 beneficiaries, will get Sh195 million.

“The funds are meant to cushion poor and vulnerable households against drought shocks occasioned by failed rains for four consecutive seasons,” Lt-Col Adan said.

NDMA had also disbursed Sh500 million under a routine cash transfer segment to over 91,000 people, with each getting Sh5,400, he said.

“Should the drought situation worsen, an additional 25 percent of households in a given sub-county registered in the HSNP database are on-boarded to benefit from the stipend and if the vegetation condition index (VCI) shows it’s in extreme phase, the number is doubled to 50 percent,” a statement from NDMA said.

Lt-Col Adan said the cash transfers are disbursed to beneficiaries “upon triggers based on set thresholds of the vegetation condition index” and announced that the beneficiaries will start receiving their payments starting Wednesday.

The disbursements are part of the State’s Social and Economic Inclusion Project.

The government, he said, has since September disbursed over Sh2.6 billion in cash transfers under the HSNP and an additional Sh8.58 billion targeting the elderly, orphans and vulnerable persons and those living with severe disabilities.

He said President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration had spent over Sh4.9 billion in food aid across 23 counties affected by drought, and advanced Sh500 million for commercial livestock off-take in 13 counties and water trucking.

“An additional Sh1.1 billion has been disbursed as emergency relief cash transfer to 170,940 vulnerable families,” he added.

A multi-sectoral food and nutrition assessment across the 23 counties will be carried out in July to advise the government on short and long-term interventions to mitigate the effects of drought.

More than one million animals have died in 19 counties, posing a huge threat to pastoralism, the region’s economic mainstay.

Lt-Col Adan said 942,000 children aged below five and 134,000 pregnant or nursing women in the 23 counties were acutely malnourished.

The failed rains have threatened the livelihoods of thousands in the counties.

More than four million Kenyans are in dire need of food due to the dry spell, up from 3.5 million in May, with the situation worsening.

Inadequate and poor rains made it difficult for farmers to plant crops and exposed pastoralists to suffering due to the depletion of pastures and drying up of water sources.

The drought has worsened in 19 of 23 affected counties in arid and semi-Arid areas, with Isiolo, Laikipia, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir and Samburu in the ‘alarming’ phase.