Residents of Makueni have called for the completion of the proposed Thwake dam, saying it will be more useful to them than the relief food they often get during times of famine.
They spoke Friday when Ahadi Kenya Trust CEO Stanley Kamau distributed relief food to a targeted 2,000 households at Kitise Market in Makueni Constituency.
Ahadi Kenya had organised the event in conjunction with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) which saw more people than had been targeted turn up to get the food rations.
Those who managed to get a share of the food took home a kilogramme of maize, beans, flour, and a litre of cooking oil.
Speakers at the event said the intervention was too little and came too late and called for more sustainable interventions, key among them irrigation.
"Instead of giving us relief food that we cannot depend on, the government should work on the proposed Thwake Dam," said Mr Stephen Kioko, to a deafening applause from the residents.
The fate of the Sh62 billion proposed dam hangs in the balance after its main financier, the African Development Bank, withheld its funding following a row at the Ministry of Water between Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa and Mr Patrick Mwangi, who was the Principal Secretary until last week.
Mr Mwangi has been redeployed to the Ministry of Industry and Enterprise Development in the same capacity.
At the food distribution drive, NSSF board chairman Gideon Ndambuki, who had a difficult time controlling the charged residents, agreed that the solution to the famine in the area lies in irrigation agriculture.
He expressed optimism that the government will complete the Thwake dam project.