Govt to launch paybill number as it raises Sh57.8 billion for famine relief

DP Gachagua

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua. He said Sh57.8 billion raised will be used to feed at least 4.3 million Kenyans in famine affected counties.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

The government will launch a paybill number where Kenyans can contribute funds towards the mitigation of the drought.

So far, the government has mobilised about Sh57.8 billion towards addressing the ongoing drought that has affected several counties across the country.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said the funds, which were raised in collaboration with development partners including the United Nations, will be used to feed at least 4.3 million Kenyans in the affected 23 counties in the Arid and Semi-Arid areas.

Speaking during the inauguration of the 15-member National Steering Committee on Drought Response formed by President William Ruto early this week, Mr Gachagua said the funds were part of the ongoing efforts by the government to address the drought situation.

“We already have several initiatives set in motion. On Monday, I joined the UN Family in Maalimin, Garissa County, for the launch of a Flash Appeal for USD472.6 million to support 4.3 million drought-affected Kenyans in 23 ASALs counties out of an estimated 6.4 million people projected to require humanitarian assistance across the country.”

“This initiative will assist to bridge the government resource gap as the drought crisis worsens,” Mr Gachagua said.

The announcement by Mr Gachagua comes at a time when the country is already facing a devastating drought that has largely been blamed on the failed rain in the last four rainy seasons.

4 million facing Hunger

Data from the government estimates that more than four million Kenyans are currently facing hunger, with families in the 11 counties of Turkana, Samburu, Tana River, Marsabit, Wajir, Isiolo, Mandera, Garissa, Kitui, Kajiado and Laikipia being some of the worst hit by the drought.

The figures are an increase from the 3.5 million people who were in March this year said to be facing hunger and another 636,000 children suffering from malnutrition.

An additional 942,000 children are also facing malnutrition across the country according to government data.

Besides the lack of rain, the government has also blamed the current hunger crisis to the two-year Covid-19 pandemic that shrunk the economy, the invasion of the desert locust that destroyed crops in farms last year and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Yesterday, Mr Gachagua said that the government intends to raise more funds through the taskforce with the aim of addressing the short and long term effects of the drought.

The DP said that part of the plan will include the distribution of food to the affected families, cash transfer programmes as well as other long term projects aimed at addressing the effects of global warming.

“To complement these ongoing efforts, the National Steering Committee on Drought Response will, among other things, establish a private sector-led National Drought Mitigation Appeal Fund and mobilise resources to alleviate the impact of the drought ravaging parts of the country,” Mr Gachagua said.

He also appealed to Kenyans to heed to the call by the government and contribute part of their income through the paybill number set to be unveiled by the steering committee to help the affected families.

“This team’s efforts will, therefore, be only as good as our willingness to lend a helping hand. Now, more than ever, we need to rekindle our spirit of Harambee and be our brother’s and sister’s keepers,” he said.

The steering committee will among other things be also be charged with establishing a National Drought Mitigation Appeal Fund and approving the opening and closing of bank accounts that would be jointly operated by representatives from the private sector, the government and the Kenya Red Cross.

The team comprises of corporate executives and will be led by Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa and will serve for a year.

Further, the taskforce will collaborate with the county governments and the National Drought Management Authority to cushion affected people by providing relief services and cash transfers.

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