Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu wants the World Food Programme (WFP) to abolish the relief drive targeting 22,000 families and instead help them build resilience against hunger.
Mrs Ngilu said on Monday that giving food aid is demeaning and counter-productive in the long run as beneficiaries remain poor.
The county chief noted that the WFP is supporting about 22,000 families, each at a cost of Sh2,700 per month, which translates to Sh59.8 million per month, yet it is adamant when it comes to changing the approach.
Mrs Ngilu said the Sh712.8 million spent every year can go a long way in lifting the families out of poverty if the funds are spent on building resilience against hunger, and supply of irrigations kits, seeds and other agricultural inputs.
The governor also said it is better to give the families fishing rods, which they can use to fish for themselves.
During the launch of corruption risk assessment at Agricultural Training Centre, she said, “Where is the logic in spending millions to feed people who only need little assistance to produce their own food?”
She added: “I’ve told WFP officials to rethink their policy and stop this relief food programme because it doesn’t improve the lives of vulnerable households and there are better ways to help food insecure communities."
'FOOD FOR WORK'
Contacted for comment, WFP country spokesman Martin Karimi noted that the families in Kitui are receiving monthly cash stipends to buy foods of their choice.
"We are no longer giving food aid in Kenya. The programme is changing and will be aligned with the county’s integrated development plan whereby WFP will channel its budget for Kitui towards projects agreed upon with the county government,” he told the Nation on phone.
He added that the WFP will factor in Governor Ngilu’s concerns in the next phase and that the food aid programme had been changed to 'food for work', with beneficiaries being given money for work done in their farms or communities.
Last month, the agency held a consultative meeting with the Council of Governors to discuss areas of collaboration and implementation of Kenya’s Country Strategic Plan (July 2018 – June 2023).
The agency, through its Country Strategic plan (CSP), will support 14 counties in Arid and Semi- Arid Counties in addressing security and nutrition priorities identified in Kenya’s third medium term plan, county integrated development plans, the National Zero Hunger Strategic Review and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).
Arid and semi-arid counties including Kitui, Baringo, Garissa, Isiolo, Kilifi, Kwale, Makueni, Marsabit, Mandera, Samburu, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Turkana and Wajir are the ones targeted in the programme.
Mr Karimi said the WFP remains committed to saving and changing lives, delivering food assistance during emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.