Families in four counties get Sh400m for food as drought bites

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The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) has announced that Sh400 million has been released to fight hunger in four counties.

The emergency cash transfers were released under the Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) and will benefit more than 90,000 families.

The vulnerable households targeted are in Marsabit, Wajir, Mandera and Turkana counties, according to NDMA.

“These four counties are among the poorest in Kenya and have been the worst affected by the current drought from January to March,” said a statement from the authority's communication specialist, Carrie Ndoka.

She said the payments were made on April 15.

The statement added: “On 5th May 2015, a further Kshs. 447,496,150 will also be released to the existing 76,090 households who are currently the regular beneficiaries of the HSNP in the same four counties.

“Therefore, in total, during April and May, Kshs. 0.9 billion will be released to 166,738 households (approximately one million people). All payments are made electronically directly to beneficiary bank accounts. Beneficiaries must have a valid ID and active account to be able to receive payments.”

The NDMA's CEO, James Oduor, said timely delivery of cash transfers in response to severe drought situations has proven to be effective.

“It affords households greater dignity and gives them more flexibility in how they choose to cope. By transferring the payments directly into their accounts, the assistance is given quickly and accountably. We believe that an intervention on this scale will help cushion thousands of people from the current drought and from sinking further into poverty,” he said.

The HSNP is a flagship programme under the Ministry of Devolution and Planning and is managed by the NDMA.

The program provides regular and predictable cash to up to 100,000 of the poorest and most vulnerable households in its four target counties. It also delivers emergency payments to additional households in response to drought.

Poverty levels in Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir and Turkana counties are high and droughts are frequent.