With hunger ravaging Kilifi County, the Kenya Red Cross has announced a plan to begin a cash transfer program to over 750 households hardest hit by the drought disaster in Ganze, Kilifi County.
The program tends to benefit the elderly who are not in the National government cash transfer program and mothers with children below three years who will get Sh5, 500 each household for two months.
In Tana-river County, the humanitarian organization will also give food to 500 households who have also been highly affected by the disaster.
Kenya Red Cross Society Coast regional manager Hassan Musa said they have already supplied relief food to 1,000 households in the Boni forest.
Mr Musa told journalists in Malindi that so far over 75,000 households (350,000 people) have been affected by the drought in the Coast region.
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“What we are going to do as Kenya Red Cross is that we are going to help over 750 households by giving them cash for two months, each family will get Sh5, 500 for two months,” he said.
He said that the number of beneficiaries is few compared to the 145,000 people affected in Kilifi county but revealed that they target the most vulnerable including expectant mothers, those with children under five years, and the elderly.
He said they would wish to reach out to everyone but for now, they target those hard hit and who require urgent intervention.
The Kenya Red Cross Society Regional manager hailed the government for declaring the drought a national disaster. That move he said will enable more resources to be allocated for intervention to reduce deaths and suffering.
“I want to express my optimism that school children who are unable to go to school due to hunger will get relief from humanitarian organizations and well-wishers and remain in school,” he said.
Mr. Musa said the drought disaster has worsened this year because of the effects of climate change adding that the same victims are the ones who suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Right now I cannot say there is anyone to blame or the government as it is as a result of hard economic times,” he said.
The situation he warned about could worsen by November if there will be no rainfall as farmers will continue suffering.
So far he said there has been a rise in cases of animals dying as a result of drought and expressed fear that even humans could begin dying if caution is not taken.
“Right now there are no deaths of humans but we do not pray or want to reach there,” he said.
Currently, four out of the six coastal counties have been affected. They are Kwale, Kilifi Tana-river, and Lamu.
In Kilifi alone, he said 145,000 are affected while Lamu 20,500, Kwale 165,000, and Tanariver 107,000 though he said the number could be more.
“Kilifi has so far lost 6,000 cattle and goats followed by Tana river with 3,000 animals adding that Tana-river and Lamu lose more animals because of pastoralists moving to those areas in search of pasture.
The manager said drought victims are also faced with acute water shortage and even though there are interventions there is more that needs to be done.
“In the Boni forest, there are cases of Bilharzia which have been reported, over 45 people have contracted the disease due to drinking dirty water,” he said.
Currently, he said there is a conflict as animals share water with humans and 80 percent of water pans are dry leaving them to share the remaining water sources.
“Boni forest residents have suffered many tragedies from insecurity due to Al-Shabaab terror attacks, Covid-19 pandemic, and now are suffering due to drought disaster,” he said.