More than 160,000 people in Tana River are faced with hunger following prolonged drought. County Commissioner Oningo’oi Olesosio on Thursday said the affected represent 85 percent of the county’s population.
The situation is expected to worsen if expected short rains fail.
In an exclusive interview with the Nation, Mr Olesosio said the government and World Food Programme (WFP) have partnered to supply monthly relief food to cushion the affected people against the adverse effects of the drought.
“We distribute every month 2,000 bags of maize, cooking oil and maize flour to each of the affected individuals,” he added.
Kenya Red Cross Society is separately distributing food– including maize flour, cooking oil and rice– to the thousands of the residents in the three affected sub-counties.
The society is implementing a three-month programme dubbed “Chakula kwa Jamii” that was launched in September where Sh3,049 is given per household in 104 affected areas.
Mr Olesosio said water trucking programme is also ongoing in most parts of Tana North and Tana River sub-counties that are grappling with water crisis.
Tana River Governor Dhadho Godhana said they had acquired five trucks from well-wishers to increase water supply to the affected population.
“Two will be used in Tana North, Two in Galole and one in Tana Delta,” said Mr Godhana.
The county commissioner further stated that the national government water trucking programme is meant to supplement similar initiative being undertaken by the county government.
“We are also supporting the county government in ensuring our people are catered for in terms of water supply even to the interior areas,” Mr Olesosio said.
The county commissioner said the drought had forced herders in Bura and Galole constituencies to migrate with their animals to Tana Delta in search of water and pasture.
This, he said, had sparked tension among pastoralists and crop farmers, especially in Kipini.
He also said livestock concentration in the area had already cause serious strain on water and pasture.
“The local security committee and elders from various communities have managed to find solutions on how both the visitors and local can share the limited resources without coming into conflict,” he said.
But as the county commissioner assures that the government will do all it can to ensure no person will die as result of the severe drought, the National Drought Management Authority has raised alarm that the situation will worsen in coming days.
The state drought agency stated that Tana North sub-county might witness severe humanitarian crisis if expected short rains will not start in earnest.
County Drought Coordinator Abdi Mussa said more than 600 livestock had died due to the drought even as the government buys animals to cushion farmers against losses.
At least 385 cattle, 750 sheep and goats have been bought from locals before being slaughtered and the meat distributed to the affected villages as relief food.
“About 40 percent of the community is in need of food. We are only hoping that the coming short rains will help salvage the situation,” Mr Mussa said.
Mr Mussa stated that his agency had distributed 6,000 bags of drought grain pellets to feed the starving livestock in the three affected sub-counties.