Kenyans in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) will receive a stipend of Sh3,000 (per household) and Sh2,000 (per individual) from the government beginning next month, instead of food rations.
The cash transfers will target 369,000 vulnerable households and 734,119 individuals, and will be disbursed every two months.
Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia said the shift in policy is intended to increase efficiency and accountability.
“I am happy to report that, arising from today’s meeting, development partners have agreed to support government efforts to mobilise resources to address gaps in drought response and resilience building in ASALs,” she said.
She said data and phone details of intended recipients have already been captured in a registry. Those who do not have cell phones will be facilitated by their chiefs, with whom the county governments will be coordinating the programme. “We will not be distributing new food from December, only what we had already purchased,” said Prof Kobia.
The CS said the national government has provided over Sh1.5 billion as part of the measures to assist affected households with food and other commodities.
“The government has provided Sh1.2 billion for purchase and distribution of food to 2.5 million people in 23 ASAL counties from October. It has also disbursed Sh450 million to Kenya Defence Forces for livestock off-take, purchase and distribution of livestock feed,” said Prof Kobia.
About Sh350 million was allocated to the Ministry of Water and Sanitation for water trucking and Sh500 million was given to National Disaster Management Authority for drought emergency response in non-food interventions. Prof Kobia said 12 counties are now on the verge of sliding from alert to alarm phase. They include Garissa, Isiolo, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Tana River, Turkana and Wajir.
“Forecasts show that there will generally be depressed rainfall across all the ASALs. This means 2.5 million people will remain food-insecure between November and December; calling for urgent pre-emptive measures. To address this impending crisis, the government has identified priority needs in key sectors amounting to Sh7.3 billion.
“I assure the country that the government is focused and is firmly on the right trajectory towards winning the war against negative impacts of drought.”