Kenya

Drought leaves over 80,000 in Isiolo in need of relief food

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A resident of Kiwanja in Isiolo carries meat distributed by the government through the livestock off-take programme on February 4, 2017. The National Drought Management Authority now says over 80,000 Isiolo residents are in need of relief food.

The number of people facing starvation in Isiolo County has increased from 60,000 to 80,000 according to a short rain assessment report by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA).

These people are now in dire need of relief food.

County NDMA Coordinator Lordman Lekalkuli said the drought has extended to Merti, Garba Tulla and Isiolo sub-counties.

The worst hit areas are Oldonyiro, Cherab, Sericho and Garba Tulla.

Although NDMA says that no livestock has died due to the ravaging drought, herders from Samburu, Marsabit and Wajir counties continue to flock Isiolo’s reserved grazing areas of Kom, Yamicha and Duse in search of water and pasture.

“The County is in the alarm stage. Sectors including water, education, health and livestock are the most affected,” said Mr Lekalkuli.

Already, the authority has received Sh14 million under the Drought Contingency Fund for mitigation measures.

CONTINGENCY FUND

The funds will be used for water trucking, purchase of livestock feed supplements, support schools food and fees programme and to sustain the rapid response team.

County Commissioner George Natembeya said Isiolo received more than 3,000 bags of maize, beans and rice and 120 packets of fortified foods which were distributed to drought-stricken families in all three sub counties.

He said Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, while distributing relief food in Ngaremara three weeks ago, pledged to double the allocation, which the county is yet to receive.

On security, Mr Natembeya noted that it has been heightened in conflict-prone areas of Kom following invasion by herders and livestock from neighbouring counties.

“We are concerned that herders who have migrated into the reserved grazing area might clash due to the limited resources and presence of illegal firearms owned by them,” he added.

LIVESTOCK OFF-TAKE

Earlier, Mr Kiunjuri said the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, will upscale the livestock off-take programme in affected regions depending on the drought situation.

He said 4,000 animals will be purchased from pastoralists in Isiolo to cushion them from losses.

Last week, the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) slaughtered 100 animals and distributed the meat to government institutions, schools and among locals.

As famine continues to ravage the country, NDMA indicates that 18 per cent of children under the age of five in Isiolo are malnourished.

“Out of 100 children under five, 18 were malnourished according to the statistics the authority carried out last month,” said Mr Lekalkuli.

School dropout has also increased with children following their parents and animals to pasture for milk and meat.