A national disaster declaration made in September 2021 over a biting drought that had rendered thousands food insecure is still in force.
Rebecca Miano, Cabinet Secretary for East African Community, Arid and Semi- Arid Lands (ASALS), and Regional Development on Saturday said government was still marshalling support to effectively respond to drought-related challenges.
The September 2021 decree was made by then President Uhuru Kenyatta and marked yet another similar declaration by successive regimes.
Miano however affirmed that President William Ruto’s administration was taking appropriate steps to alleviate the pain resulting from the ravaging drought situation.
“Following the declaration of the drought disaster, the government started scaling up drought response interventions as humanitarian agencies launched a Flash Appeal for Kenya for the period covering October 2021 to October 2022 (the appeal was revised in May 2022). In November 2022, the government and the UN launched another Joint Flash Appeal,” Miano stated.
“The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) maintains a dashboard for tracking the resources mobilized from the appeals, interventions implemented, and population reached,” she added.
Miano said the initiative has “enabled us to identify where to direct our rescue efforts and to make informed decisions in order to save lives.”
Government statistics indicate that the drought situation remains critical in 22 of the 23 ASAL counties.
About 5.5 million people have been affected.
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Miano stated drought response interventions kicked in in August 2021 after an early warning bulletin.
She said support has been scaled up in the 23 ASAL counties and 45 hotspot wards in 9 additional counties.
“Since 2021, the government has thus far spent more than Sh25 billion to cushion affected populations against starvation and other drought effects.”
The interventions have mainly been in the areas of; food aid and cash transfers; water and sanitation; Agriculture and livestock; Education’ Health and nutrition; Peace and security’ and Drought response coordination to ensure synergy and complementarity,” she said.
Miano added that currently, more than 89 development partners and non-state actors are involved in drought response in ASAL counties.
They include UN agencies, international and national NGOs, as well as Red Cross organizations among others.
As at December 2022, the agencies had mobilized about Sh44.7 billion for drought response including flash appeals.
ASAL counties petition
She was responding to 14 Senators drawn from ASAL Counties who on Thursday called for the declaration of the drought situation as a national disaster to enhance resource mobilization.
Led by Mandera Senator Ali Roba, the leaders said it is only the declaration of drought as a national disaster that would trigger non-state actors and other well-wishers to help affected populations.
“Given the fact that Kenya was declared a middle-income country, donors and other non-state actors are not willing to respond to the drought crisis unless the government declares the drought a national disaster,” they said in a statement.
The senators said the little or occasional food distribution from the government is “extremely insufficient” to save lives.
The Senators included Ledama Olekina (Narok), Steve Lelegwe (Samburu), Kanar Seki (Kajiado), Mohamed Chute (Marsabit), James Lomenen (Turkana) and Abass Mohamed (Wajir).
Others who joined them are: Miriam Omar (nominated), Peris Tobiko (nominated), William Kisang (Elgeyo Marakwet), Hezena Lemaletian (nominated), Joseph Gathuku (Lamu), Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi) and Danson Mungatana (Tana River).