Just how exactly did the drought catch the Gov’t by surprise?


Droought
Man in Turkana, amidst the drought

The government now says that no Kenyan has died from the ongoing famine in parts of the country.

But a spot check by Citizen TV revealed various parts of the country are yet to get a reprieve from the ravages of drought and hunger.

Pictures of starving people have left many Kenyans asking why the government waited until the hunger situation reached the level of starvation and death before action was taken.

Was the drought never foretold by the meteorological department? And was the information shared in government or did simply sleep anyone sleep on the job?

“We give this information consistently to all arms of government including the Ministry of Agriculture, NDMA… We share this information across all government sectors….,” said Samwel Mwangi – Deputy Director, Meteorological Department.

Over a million Kenyans are facing acute food shortage owing to the drought.

According to statistics by the Ministry of Devolution, at least 20% of the population in 13 counties is food insecure.

The situation has been markedly severe in Turkana, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Baringo, Kilifi, Tana River, West Pokot, Marsabit, Makueni, Kajiado, Kwale and Isiolo.

Besides pictures of people losing their flesh, reports of death have emerged from some of the counties.

At least nine people have been reported dead in Baringo and Turkana owing to drought and famine, but the government begs to disagree.

“Yes the deaths were there, but the report we have gotten have not been able to link those death directly to drought. Those death are linked maybe to sickness…,” James Oduor – CEO, National Drought Management Authority.

Experts say when there is a severe lack of food many people die of starvation, but between starvation and death there is nearly always disease.

In fact Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa says the Ministry of Health has been drafted in to eliminate the likely outbreak of diseases, a case of a government seemingly contradicting itself.

“We also have Health Sicily Kariuki because of the situation that is happening… Health will be happening and we will be working with the counties…” said CS Wamalwa.

Meanwhile, Deputy President William Ruto led a group of government officials in disputing statements by residents of various counties that at least nine people had lost their lives.

The National Drought Management Authority says those deaths resulted from diseases and other causes not related to famine.

“The condition of the country’s vegetation has been affected by the drought… the situation of livestock have been affected to an extent… the situation and live hoods have been affected in at least 13 counties….,” said DP Ruto.

“We are very honest…. People died and if you want us to take you to their graves we will. You can exhume and run tests. (story ya watu kukufa ni ukweli na ukitaka tukupeleke kwa makaburi tutakupeleke na tukuonyeshe na ukitaka kuchimbua utachimbua uende upime,)” said Sam Lokales.

According to the government, 13 counties are in dire need of food and water with 1.1 million Kenyans facing starvation, the cause of this poor rains.

“The first line of intervention has already been carried out by counties…we are now coming to the second level of intervention by the national government so we are not at all…if you talk to experts… we are not at all behind schedule…in the government intervening in the drought situation we have in the country,…,” said DP Ruto.

The government says it has approved an additional Ksh.2 billion to ensure short – term interventions are implemented.

The government had already set aside Ksh.5 billion even as the response continues to elicit questions about what could have been earlier, and what difference it would have made.

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Story By Enock Sikolia
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