Put the drought menace behind us once and for all

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Since the last months of 2016 the country has experienced long dry spells that have threatened health and local food security across different regions, affecting more than three million Kenyans. The disaster has since been declared a national emergency.

The food situation in the country has hit dangerous levels especially in arid and semi arid land (ASAL) areas, which have been the most affected. So far according to the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), about 3.4 million people concentrated in 10 ASAL counties are affected and face starvation.

As a result, the KRCS has appealed for funds worth Sh1billion to use for its 2018 drought response and recovery program that is meant to help over 1 million people in these areas. To answer their call, the government has allocated 3.8billion to help Kenyans that have been affected by the disaster.

The government has divided the allocated funds to ensure that it is used to serve the different problems that emerged as a result of the disaster. In order to deal with the situation, the government has allocated a huge portion of the funds, Sh2.5 billion, towards food and cash transfer programmes in the parts that are most hit by the drought.

The rest has been allocated as follows; Sh619 million goes towards programmes that deal with livestock, Sh306 million is to go towards construction of boreholes and water trucking, sh114 million is for hygiene and sanitation, Sh100 million is to go to the health sector for nutrition while Sh85 million is to go to the farmers in terms of inputs.

However, this script reads familiar. It is a replication of previous knee jerk actions the government has employed before, that were never intended to deal conclusively with the perennial problem. Couple that with the entrenched corruption and you see a catastrophe in the making.

In the meantime, logging has continued unabated threatening extinction of country’s traditional water towers and affecting rainfall patterns. We are growing further into as desert and faster

To deal with the perennial problems of persistent droughts that normally lead to food insecurity and subsequent hunger and starvation, there is need for the government to protect forests, promote a culture of growing more trees, harvest rain waters into dams on a big scale and do profitable irrigation farming even as it deals with the current situation of saving lives through rapid results initiatives that they have embarked on.

It is disheartening that three quarters of the money the government has put forward to mitigate the drought situation will go into bottomless private pockets, a few people will die painfully of starvation, then the rains will come and we will all forget. And drought will come back three, four years from now and the cycle will be here with us. It is that predictable. We cannot grow the economy that way, not even with the ‘Big four’ agenda.