An MP has claimed that three people had died of starvation and asked the Government to declare the drought ravaging more than 23 counties a national disaster.
North Horr MP Chachu Ganya and area Member of the County Assembly Sora Guyo said that the three elderly people died of famine three weeks ago.
“I want to state here categorically as a national leader that three people have died in my constituency,” the MP said during a meeting attended by Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri in Marsabit on Thursday.
Mr Kiunjuri however dismissed the claims, saying no deaths had occurred as a result of the drought.
“No cases of death have been reported so far in the affected counties,” he said.
But the local chief Tuye Katelo said he had received the report of one death, adding “Our people don’t report that their loved ones have died of hunger. It’s a taboo in Gabra culture”.
Mrs Shuke Eleko,60, said her husband died two weeks ago due to starvation and that two other people had died in Korga village following the food crisis.
The lack of water and pasture has sent livestock prices plummeting.
A goat which used to fetch Sh7, 000 a few months ago is now selling at Sh500.
The county has received little rainfall for the last nine months resulting to the drying of water points and a shortage of food.
RELIEF FOOD ALLOCATION
The government has since distributed an assortment of 420 metric tonnes of relief food in the region with each sub-county receiving 60 metrics tonnes.
The rations include Unimix for the elderly, expectant mothers and under five, maize, beans, rice and cooking oil.
On Thursday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the amount of relief food distributed in the county would be doubled.
The president who spoke in Marsabit during a tour to mobilise locals to register as voters said the government would review the budget to have more funds allocated to relief food.
“We are reviewing the budget to step up the distribution of relief food in the affected counties,” he said.
At Ndune Market in Embu, National Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Mutava Musyimi said Parliament would approve the spending of more funds to mitigate the effects of the raging famine and drought.
He said they would review allocations of the 2016/2017 Budget in the forthcoming supplementary budget to ensure no one dies of hunger.
Mr Musyimi said his committee had already had a meeting with Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Henry Rotich to prepare a case for fighting the drought.
“Among the mitigation measures to be adopted is a review of funding to non-core areas and reallocation to the contingency fund commonly used to address emergencies such as the one currently facing the country,” he said.
He challenged county governments to review their budgets to conform to the challenges facing the population.
“We cannot ignore the plight of Kenyans in the wake of the emerging national crisis,” he said.
In Garissa County, Fafi MP Bare Shill said the situation is getting desperate and required a strong intervention campaign.
“Let it be known that our people are faced with starvation and require urgent assistance. Reports by the relevant ministries that the situation has been stabilized are not factual,” he said at Parliament Buildings.
The government has said it will import the first consignment of maize in July to beef up the food reserves.
Mr Kiunjuri said the country had 21 million bags of maize and that another 1.3 million were at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) stores.
Until last week, those in dire need of food were 1.3 million people.
While distributing relief food in Ngaremara in Isiolo on Thursday, the CS said the government is scaling up a livestock off-take programmes in the Ministry of Agriculture by buying animals hurt by the drought situation.
At least 4,500 and 4,000 animals are set to be slaughtered in Marsabit and Isiolo counties respectively, Mr Kiunjuri said.
“Most of the animals are very weak due to drought and we have scaled up the programme to cushion pastoralists from experiencing losses,” he said.
Mr Shill asked the government to deliver rice and maize in form of flour to make it culturally acceptable to the residents.
He also asked the Government to ensure the relief food and other donations such as supplements and medicines reached the affected people instead of just “dumping them in dispensaries”.
—Reports by Ken Bett, Vivian Jebet, John Njagi and Charles Wanyoro