Kenya Government Declares Famine Alert

NAIROBI, Kenya (PANA) - The Kenyan government has declared a famine alert in the northern arid district of Wajir where 85 people were reported to have starved to death recently.
The minister in the office of the president, Sharrif Nassir, said in Nairobi Wednesday that the government had released 200 million shillings for the purchase of relief food for the famine striken Kenyans.

The relief would be sent to Moyale, Mandera, Turkana and Wajir, which were some of the most severely drought-affected districts.

Other areas include the traditional bread basket districts of Nyeri, Muranga in Central Kenya and some parts of Coast Province.

Nassir urged Legislators not to politicise the issue of famine for personal benefits.

He was apparently referring to a statement Monday attributed to Wajir member of parliament, Adan Keynan, who called for the area to be declared a disaster zone to enable international organisations send emergency food supplies.

But Keynan reiterated Wednesday that the people in Wajir were suffering from famine and appealed for assistance from international and other donors.

He told a news conference that the district had been without rain since the El Nino induced rains of 1997, and denied Nassir's assertion that the issue was being politicised.

"The situation in Wajir is not being politicised. The people in the district urgently need food, water and medicine," he said.

But Nassir denied that the situation in the district was not as bad as was being potrayed by Keynan.

"The situation in Wajir is in the stage of alert. This means it is only an environmental condition, especially water that has shown signs of deterioration," he said.

To prevent the situation from degenerating into an emergency, Nassir said the authorities had completed drilling and equipping a bore hole in the area, which was serving 10,000 people and about 50,000 livestock.

"As of today, a government drilling team is at the depth of 55 metres at another centre. It is expected to be functional soon," he added.

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