A woman takes a rest on arriving at the only water point serving over 10 kilometers square at Longesire borehole in Samburu East on February 1, 2022. PHOTO/NATION

The hunger situation in the country is expected to continue until June this year owing to the failed short rains, a humanitarian agency has said.

According to the Emergency Preparedness and Response manager at the Kenya Red Cross Venant Ndighila, the number of those affected by drought has been going up and is expected to continue going up.

“The drought is affecting 29 counties with 23 of them being in semi-arid areas. We have 4.3 million victims dependent on relief aid but the numbers are increasing every month,” he said.

He added that the failed short rains that normally take place between the months of October and December gave Kenyans including the government and aid agencies a false hope adding that since January and February are dry seasons, substantial rains may start in March and the first harvest done as from May and June.

“We are seeing a likelihood of the effects to continue and maybe deteriorate even further since the October, November, December rains failed. The January and February period are normally dry seasons in the country, and we expect those affected to continue being in need until we get substantial rain in March and our support will continue until May and June next year,” he added.

Mr Ndighila also said that the water problem had led to many communities to travel longer distances for the commodity.

“Some of the little rains have presented a sense of false hope in affected areas, hence affecting victims of drought and agencies. We have seen distances to water points have increased ten to 12 kilometers and there are some areas where women and children have walked 20 kilometers to look for water,” he said.

His sentiments are echoed by the Cabinet Secretary (CS) for East African Community Rebecca Miano who said that most parts of the country had not harvested any crop in five seasons.

We have had bad rains and I think this is the fifth season for failed rains and so this is not normal but effects of climate change.

“The government has reserved some funds to procure food and do cash transfers but this is not the last thing we are doing,” she said.

She added that the Drought Response Committee together with the National Drought Management Authority has been tasked to come up with long term measures.

“We are coming up with long term measures for sustainable drought resilience. We know that this is not the last drought but we would want to come up with such measures so that in future we will have water and food despite the drought,” she said.

The CS led the Pamoja Tuungane Initiative food distribution exercise in Bamba area where she was joined by the Safaricom Foundation and MPESA Foundation teams led by Safaricom Foundation Trustee Gladys Wambugu that have mobilized Sh. 51 million to distribute food to at least 4,000 families in various counties.

Mrs Kahonzi Said, a victim of drought from Adu village in Magarini Sub County has asked the government to provide water by digging boreholes for them as a way to mitigate against drought.

“We are grateful for the relief food we have received and we need more. When it comes to feeding, one can even eat once in a day or even go to bed hungry for days. Water is a problem and we cover longer distances to get water and we want the government to provide watering points for us,” she said.

At the same time, the Kilifi County government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with World Vision Kenya that will see the organization invest in water harvesting in the drier parts of the County.

Governor Gideon Mung’aro said that pulling up resources and streamlining projects will help reduce duplication where the county government invests where another agency has already invested.

“We shall collaborate with World Vision to ensure we provide water to people in the villages,” he said.

The World Vision Kenya country director Gilbert Kamanga said that the agency has an annual budget of Sh. 480 million for Kilifi County alone and it operates in 37 counties.

“Our annual investment in this county is Sh. 480 million which if you project that into the next three and four years is a significant contribution that is why we want to work together with your government,” he said.

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