Governors have raised the alarm over ravaging drought in four northern Kenya counties.
Council of Governor’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) chairman Ali Roba named Mandera, Marsabit, Garissa and Wajir as the counties hit hardest.
In a statement, Mr Roba, who is the Mandera governor, said it was important to intervene quickly to prevent a human catastrophe.
“The drought in northeastern region will be discussed on the sidelines of the Council of Governors Consultative Forum set for Mombasa next week, as we take it seriously,” Mr Roba said.
Mr Roba attributed the drought to less-than-average rainfall in the region, adding that it had resulted in the drying up of vegetation and water sources.
He promised that the Mandera government would distribute food to hunger-stricken families and asked the national government to also intervene.
Mr Roba also called on other humanitarian agencies to intervene to alleviate suffering for locals, who rely on livestock for their livelihood.
“The arid and semi-arid lands have experienced lack of rainfall for long, resulting in the drought situation,” the governor added.
He said the meeting at the Mombasa retreat slated for September 14 would help chart a way forward for the ASAL counties as part of a long-term solution to the perennial drought.
“The counties have to work on ways of mitigating the drought,” he said.
Mr Roba said his county was trucking water to the worst affected areas.
He said the demand for water in the county was growing daily, with boreholes breaking down due to overuse.
INCREASE RELIEF RATIONS
He also called on Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru’s Devolution Ministry to increase relief rations to the region.
While counties are supposed to deal with water trucking, health and veterinary issues, Mr Roba said the national government was supposed to distribute relief food to affected residents.
Mandera has had three successive rain failures, with only 40 per cent of the county getting less than average amounts.
Rainfall failed, for instance, in Mandera South, Mandera North, Lafey and Mandera East sub-counties, Mr Roba said.
He said the national government had distributed only 500 bags of rice to each sub-county in Mandera, a supply Mr Roba called inadequate “even during the rainy season”.
As a result, he said, the four hardest-hit counties were distributing relief to complement support from the national government.
“Both the national and county governments need to scale up their efforts,” Mr Roba said.
WAITING FOR DEATHS
Mr Roba cautioned against the government and donor agencies waiting until the situation deteriorates further, saying such late response could result in deaths.
“We don’t need to wait until we start seeing images of malnourished people to act. We need to act with speed,” he said.
Since the start of devolution, counties have worked hard to minimise the effects of drought through trucking water, digging boreholes and providing relief food.
Other counties also plan to construct multimillion-shilling slaughterhouses and purchase livestock from owners before the animals die from drought.
The Senate proposed a Sh4.4 billion contingency fund to handle emergencies like drought but the National Assembly shot down the proposals.