Plea for relief food as drought ravages Tharaka residents

Kenya Red Cross relief donations

Kenya Red Cross Society Tharaka-Nithi County coordinator Jerusha Nyaga (right) donates food to drought-affected residents of Kanjoro location in Tharaka North Sub County on September 8, 2022. 

Photo credit: Alex Njeru I Nation Media Group

The number of people who need food and water aid in Tharaka constituency, Tharaka Nithi County, is increasing as drought worsens in the semi-arid region bordering Kitui, Meru and Garissa counties.

Speaking in Kiamiramba market on Friday, famine-stricken residents said their children were dropping out of school and that humans and livestock were facing death as they had nothing to eat.

Village elder James Kathenya said most rivers that used to flow throughout the year have dried up and hungry locals and their livestock walk many kilometres to the Tana and Kathita rivers to quench their thirst.

He said schools are also struggling to operate and urged the government to start a feeding programme so that children can stay in school.

“We appeal to the government to provide us with food and water aid because we sleep hungry and our children cannot go to school on empty stomachs,” Mr Kathenya said.

The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) has said more than 38,000 people in Tharaka constituency urgently need food aid.

The most affected areas are Gatunga, Chiakariga, Mukothima, Marimanti and Nkondi wards, which have not received enough rainfall in the last three years for crop and pasture to grow.

“We have at least 7,704 vulnerable households which are in urgent need of food aid and the situation is deteriorating as drought worsens,” said NDMA county coordinator Kiragu Kariuki at a recent meeting in Chuka town.

Though the county is among 23 that will benefit from relief food that President William Ruto despatched last week, that will come in phase two, Tharaka Nithi County Commissioner Nobert Komora told Nation.Africa.

“The government started distributing relief food to the 10 most affected counties, but we will receive it in phase two, which is likely to start in the next one week,” Mr Komora said.

The most affected counties include Samburu, Isiolo, Turkana, Tana River, Garissa and Mandera.

Mr Komora said the food will be given to the most vulnerable households. Sub-county committees were formed and are listing those to benefit.

NDMA data will guide them to identify the most affected areas, he noted.

He added that the national government will collaborate with the Tharaka Nithi County government in disbursing the relief food and urged political leaders to avoid politicising the process.

He urged well-wishers, including private organisations and individuals, to support the government in helping the hungry.

“The Kenya Red Cross Society is already running a food and cash transfer programme targeting the most vulnerable households in Kanjoro location in Tharaka North sub-county and we are welcoming more partners, including individuals,” he said.

The weatherman projects that the earliest the region can receive rainfall is two weeks from now and it will be low and short.

Farmers were advised to plant early maturing crops, including millet, green grams and sorghum.
 

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