The government has announced relief measures for four hunger-stricken counties, Wajir, Turkana, Garissa and Mandera, in the North-Eastern part of Kenya.
While announcing the measures on Thursday, April 1, Government Spokesperson, Cyrus Oguna, said that the three counties were in dire need of support as the Kenya Meteorological Department had warned of low rainfalls in the areas.
Oguna said that the food sector was affected by poor short rainfalls experienced in 2020. The relief measures put in place to mitigate the disaster includes; Distribution of water and food to households in Turkana, Mandera, Garissa and Wajir. Cash transfer under the Hunger Safety Net Program which is under Phase Three.
All houses in the aforementioned counties receive Ksh 2,700 for two months. This means that in a year, they are given Ksh 16,200. Oguna said that they have targetted over 101,000 households in Turkana, Mandera and Marsabit.
Women and children lining up for relief food in 2019.
The government spends Ksh2 billion every year. Plans are underway to incorporate Wajir, Isiolo, Tana River, Garissa and Samburu. Another existing safety net programme in the area is the Inua Jamii Program.
Oguna said that the availability of subsidised seeds and fertilizers targets small-scale farmers in all 47 counties. He said that the government is considering a budget of Ksh 2.2 billion to mitigate drought in Kenya but called on UNICEF, UNDP and well-wishers to assist with relief aids.
“Kenyans should take advantage of these programs especially subsidies and early rains to prepare for planting. As the government, we are committed to ensuring that no Kenyan dies from lack of food. This is a commitment made by the President,” Oguna said.
He also warned residents in areas which are expected to receive heavy rainfalls to migrate to other areas as they were at risk of facing landslide. These areas, he said are in Nyanza and Rift Valley regions.
Oguna further cautioned matatu operators and supermarkets from relaxing measures set to curb Covid-19. He urged police to enforce crackdowns and arrests if one was flouting the directives ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“There are facilities that have relaxed the curfew and lockdown measures. Like the supermarkets are not using thermo-guns and do not ask customers to sanitise or wash hands. And to those complaining of lockdowns, is it better to wear a mask or be hospitalised in an ICU? These measures were stipulated to protect us,” Oguna said but failed to clarify whether the government would offer tax reliefs and food reliefs for other counties.
Uhuru was castigated for closing bars and hotels which are major players in the economy. The President has been under pressure to lift the lockdown or offer the reliefs. Employees of various sectors have held online and street demonstrations urging the head of state to reconsider his directives.
So far, Machakos County, under Governor Alfred Mutua, has cushioned its traders. Supermarkets and other private businesses were asked to lower the prices of basic commodities, the county government wrapped taxes on mama mbogas, and ordered zero payment of fees by boda boda operators.
“The President was pushed to put lockdown, there was not much conversation on the economic front as there should have been. Landlords should also cut tenants some slack,” Mutua said.
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), however, said that measures such as waivers and loan restructuring would only be implemented if the third wave situation escalates.
President Uhuru Kenyatta gives his 15th Presidential address on the Covid-19 pandemic at State House, Nairobi on March 26, 2021.