President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered the resumption of school feeding programmes in drought-stricken areas as he announced a food for fees initiative to fight the escalating famine across the country.
To retain pupils in schools, the President said the government will supply food to schools which will in turn deduct the cost of the food from the fees they charge students.
He also announced a new restocking scheme where the State will buy weak livestock from herders and slaughter the animals for the locals to consume.
The President who spoke in Maralal Town, which is one of the counties hard hit by the drought, said the ongoing food and water relief plan will also be enhanced.
The Head of State also gave a directive to consolidate all drought relief efforts so that they are channelled through the Devolution ministry.
This was after feedback from the counties showed that the food channelled through the Devolution ministry was reaching the needy faster than other relief such as water.
“Streamline relief assistance being given by different ministries and let them be distributed through one channel,” the President said when he spoke in a meeting attended by the Cabinet Secretary for Devolution Mwangi Kiunjuri and Agriculture and Livestock Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyambe, among other government officials.
The President further flagged off trucks ferrying assorted food stuff and fodder to various parts of the county.
Read: Accept food for fees, Uhuru orders schools
Leaders in the area had raised issues around the drought and asked the Head of State to authorise the school feeding and food for fees programme in arid and semi-arid areas so that children remain in schools and are not sent home for fees.
President Kenyatta held over two hours of closed door talks with local leaders at the county assembly offices before proceeding to Maralal Town where he highlighted what his government had done for the region, citing improved security and infrastructure development as some notable areas and promised completion of the Rumuruti-Maralal Road.
He lamented that the region “short-changed” him in the last General Election and pleaded for their votes this year.
“Last time you short-changed me a little. Yes. I don’t know about this time round and whether you will do the same.”
The leader moved to assure Jubilee supporters that no aspirant would be imposed on them and only their best would be handed the party’s ticket.
The Samburu and Laikipia conflict over invasion of private land by herders was discussed at length during the meeting, where the local leaders urged the President to have the government purchase some of the ranches and allow herders to graze there during droughts.
President Kenyatta was received by Samburu leaders led by Governor Moses Lenolkulal, senators Naisula Lesuuda (Nominated) and Sammy Leshore (Samburu) and MPs Lati Lelelit (Samburu West), Allois Lentoimaga (Samburu North) and Raphael Letimalo (Samburu East).
And on the up coming election, the Jubilee leader, urged voters to exercise their voting rights and elect leaders of their choice, warning that they would have themselves to blame if they do not acquire the crucial card.
“Don’t look at this voting thing as an easy thing, it is not,” he said.
“Don’t campaign for anyone before acquiring your voters card because you will have no one to blame if bad leaders are elected.
“You are voting not just for the president or the other leaders, you are voting for your life. If you elect a bad leader, you will suffer,” he warned.
He directed IEBC officials in the region to follow and registering pastoralists who are on the move in search of water and pasture.
President Kenyatta also ordered the Registrar of Persons to trace and release ID cards to applicants through chiefs.
He cautioned youth saying: “The campaign period is hot, leaders come up with gangs of youths to do their dirty work. Don’t be used badly by leaders, if you do, it is you who will suffer. Let the leaders sell their ideologies.”
The President then proceeded to Rumuruti, Doldol and Wiyumiririe in Laikipia County.
Reports by Obed Simiyu, Caroline Wafula and Godfrey Oundoh