Declare drought national disaster, President William Ruto urged

cow carcass

A man walks past a cow carcass in Mandera County. For three consecutive years, the county has not received any rainfall, leading to drought.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

Mandera Governor Mohamed Khalif wants President William Ruto to declare the ongoing drought a national disaster, saying half of the population in his county is affected.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua is this week expected to chair a meeting to address drought intervention measures.

“The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Mandera county is 500,000 ,” Mr Khalif said, adding, his administration was supplying 1.8 million litres of water to 192 villages daily.

Women carrying firewood walk past a carcass of a cow in drought hit Loiyangalani in Marsabit, Northern Kenya

Women carrying firewood walk past a carcass of a cow in Loiyangalani, which is the worst affected by the prolonged drought, in Marsabit, northern Kenya, on July 12, 2022. Several hard-hit counties in Northern Kenya are set to receive funds through the drought management agency.

Photo credit: Simon Maina | AFP

“The drought is approaching its peak in mid-October and we will require up to four million litres of water daily to save people and livestock over the next 30 days. We need at least Sh75 million for water trucking, fuel, and borehole repairs and maintenance,” the county boss said.

Mr Khalif said that, despite concerted efforts by his administration, the county is experiencing acute food and water shortages, malnutrition, limited pastures and reduced livestock prices. According to the Mandera livestock department, between January and September, 365,283 heads of cattle, 160,721 camels, 495,169 goats and sheep and 29,314 donkeys died due to drought.

At least 452,744 heads of cattle, 386,448 camels and 1.3 million goats require urgent supplementary feeds, treatment and water across the county. The education sector has also been hit hard.

A Samburu herdsboy watering livestock at Kom area.

A Samburu herdsboy watering livestock at Kom area on September 19, 2022. About 4.43 million Kenyans are facing starvation due to prolonged drought and erratic rains.

Photo credit: Geoffrey Ondieki | Nation Media Group

“Starving learners are unable to concentrate. We need at least Sh370 million to supply water and food to 41 boarding schools and the 312 early childhood development and education centres,” Mr Khalif said. Health officials have reported an increase in malnutrition in the county due to lack of food in many homes. Food insecurity has resulted in drought-related diseases.

“Due to a decline in milk production, reduced milk consumption, poor dietary diversity and reduced food intake, 108,736 children under five years in Mandera face acute malnutrition. In addition, for per cent and 33 per cent of households scored poor or borderline food consumption scores, respectively,” Mr Khalif said.

drought

Mr Abdi Boru shows carcasses of cows that have died due to drought in Dabel village, Marsabit County on August 24, 2022. People in the area are staring at starvation.

Photo credit: Gitonga Marete | Nation Media Group

Only 13.5 per cent of women can afford a healthy diet while 15,216 pregnant and breast feeding women require treatment.

Strategic reserve

Mr Khalif urged President Ruto to implement a livestock off-take programme through the Kenya Meat Commission and release grains from the strategic reserve.

“We are ready to work with the national government to ensure that no Kenyan will die of hunger,” Mr Khalif said.

At least 80,000 households in Mandera are receiving Sh6, 500 under the cash transfer programme courtesy of the National Drought Management Authority. Another 22,000 households need cash transfers for the next three months.

The Mandera County government projects to spend at least Sh1.2 billion to save 22,000 households from starvation.

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