Drought a national disaster – Uhuru

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By STELLA CHERONO
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The government on Friday declared the current drought a national disaster.

President Uhuru Kenyatta subsequently called on all relevant ministries and authorities to scale up their drought-mitigation programmes.

Speaking after a briefing with Cabinet secretaries at State House in Nairobi, the President said the current drought affecting 23 arid and semi-arid counties, had affected humans, livestock and wildlife.

“Support from our partners would complement government efforts in mitigating the effects of drought,” said Mr Kenyatta.

President Kenyatta also warned distributors of relief food that they would be punished if they’re found taking advantage of the situation to enrich themselves, saying this would amount to fraud, which is punishable under the law.

STABILISING CEREAL PRICES

He said all purchases of food and other needs should be made in a transparent and open manner and that all government agencies be involved to ensure Kenyans are not defrauded.

“Let all investigative agencies, including the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, get involved in the activities being undertaken during this period,” the President said, adding that he did not want a situation where the government would be accused of taking advantage of this situation.

One of the measures the government had taken, he said, was stabilising cereal prices by allowing maize imports by licensed millers.

“We will, however, be strict and monitor the situation to ensure it is done in a very transparent manner,” He said.

In phase two of drought intervention covering the months of February to April, the government has allocated Sh11 billion for programmes in various sectors.

Already the Treasury has released the first tranche of Sh7.3 billion while the county governments have provided Sh2 billion.

The government intends to enhance the interventions, including the doubling of food rations and cash transfers.

Present were Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Cabinet secretaries Henry Rotich (Treasury), Willy Bett (Agriculture and Livestock), Mwangi Kiunjuri (Devolution), Phyllis Kandie (East African Community, Labour and Social Protection), Eugene Wamalwa (Water and Irrigation), principal secretaries Richard Lesiyampe, Susan Mochache and Fred Sigor, and Conservation Secretary Gideon Gathaara, among others.


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