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Turkana cultural festival put off as county fights biting hunger

Wednesday April 3 2019

Kakwanyang, Turkana County

A woman carrying her child walks to a food distribution centre in Kakwanyang, Turkana County on March 27, 2019. Turkana County government has suspended the annual cultural festival slated for later this month as it battles a deadly hunger caused by the ongoing drought. PHOTO | PETER WARUTUMO | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

 SAMMY LUTTA
By SAMMY LUTTA
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The Turkana County government has suspended the annual cultural festival slated for later this month as it battles a deadly hunger caused by the ongoing drought.

The festival, popularly known as Tobong’u Lore (welcome back home), had already been allocated Sh20 million but Governor Josphat Nanok was forced to suspend it following pressure from MCAs and residents.

Mr Nanok's administration has been using the one-week festival to showcase Turkana culture and promote tourist sites in the county.

PROMOTE PEACE

Last year, Deputy President William Ruto and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta were among key guests who graced the festival.

The festival, normally held at Ekaales Centre in Lodwar, has also been used to promote peace between Turkana and its neighbouring communities – the Karamajong and Dodoth from Uganda, Nyangotom from Ethiopia, Toposa from South Sudan and Pokot from Kenya.

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HUNGER, DEATHS

This year the county has been hard hit by hunger and deaths linked to it have been reported by residents.

The county has been appealing for food aid for close to a million starving residents.

"We have postponed the annual tourism and cultural festival that had been scheduled to take place from April 25 to 27. The Sh20 million that had been allocated to the event was channelled to drought responses," Governor Nanok said.

MOTION

Last week, MCAs adopted a motion to cancel the festival, forcing the county government to postpone it.

The motion was moved by Turkwel MCA Stephen Edukon who urged Mr Nanok’s government to focus on fighting drought and hunger.

“It is shameful to allocate such funds to a three-day activity as thousands of residents are in dire need of relief food and water,” said Mr Edukon.

The MCA said that the drought had been prolonged by delayed rainfall, resulting to worsening lack of food and water.

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