Millions under threat as drought bites
"People are simply on their death beds." This was how the Livestock
minister Muhammad Kuti described the effects of the ravaging drought
in the country.
"This is a very ugly scene, a very disturbing scene that the country
is facing," the minister added during a press briefing last week.
Reports indicate that several people have already succumbed to the
effects of starvation which has also killed thousands of livestock
due to lack of water and pasture in Northern Kenya.
of Rift Valley and Central region are also bearing the brunt of
the disaster. The minister said Sh1.5 billion was needed to minimize
losses in the affected communities who have yet to recover from
recent droughts. "We need to implement contingency intervention
measures, start an immediate livestock purchase off-take programme,
acquire veterinary drugs for the migrating animals and a monitoring
programme," said the minister.
funds will also be used to provide water to the affected areas in
order to prevent the crisis that was witnessed in 2009 where thousands
of cattle died on their way to the Kenya Meat Commission slaughter
houses in Athi River.
said the country was experiencing adverse weather conditions which
threaten more than 22 million livestock. On his part, Livestock
assistant minister Aden Duale appealed to the crisis centre in the
Prime Minister's office to respond to the plight of the people facing
starvation. "We are asking the PM's crisis centre to respond to
the need of the pastoral communities.
involves provision of food to the people in the 14 affected counties
as well as livestock feed for their animals," said the Dujis MP.
The Kenya Red Cross secretary general Abbas Gullet said the effects
are widespread and devastating and appealed to the government to
declare the drought a national disaster in order to enable mobilization
of resources to combat the situation.
Gullet said a nationwide and international appeal campaign to help
raise funds to assist drought hit population will be launched soon.
Among the most affected areas are Garissa, Ijara, Tana river, Taita
Taveta and Kwale counties.
Isiolo, Wajir, Mandera and Samburu are also affected. The counties
of Kitui, Makueni, Machakos, Kajiado and Narok could also be affected
as they received low rainfall. Pastoralists who depend on cattle
for their food and income have to drive their livestock hundreds
of kilometres to seek pasture and water.
to Kenya Red Cross Society spokesman Titus Mung'ou displacement
of families migrating in search of water and pasture in northern
Kenya has already been witnessed. Schools have closed down in many
remote areas after residents left, while water shortages have forced
health workers to close health centres in some areas.
In 2009, the government came under sharp criticism from players
in the livestock industry for failing to prevent the death of thousands
of livestock despite early warning reports released by the metrological