Drought-hit counties seek ways to fight hunger

Monday May 22 2017

A Turkana woman waits with her children to get

A Turkana woman waits with her children to get food rations near Lokitaung on March 21, 2017. A biting drought has ravaged the livestock population in the county. PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | AFP 

FAITH NYAMAI
By FAITH NYAMAI
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Counties in northern Kenya stricken by drought and hunger are now embracing technology in agriculture as they seek to improve their peoples’ livelihoods.

Representatives of the pastoral counties who form the Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC) were in Turkana County last week on a bench-making tour geared at finding sustainable solutions to drought and hunger.

The FCDC counties — Garissa, Isiolo, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Tana River and Wajir — are among the most affected by drought.

Turkana County, has also been hit by the drought leaving thousands of animals dead while families have suffered hunger-related diseases like malnutrition.

The counties are pushing for sustainable socio-economic development programmes that will deal with issues of hunger and drought.

The FCDC’s aims at accelerating the Socio-economic development of its member counties, increasing its trade, tourism and investment, encouraging private enterprise and advancing efforts towards peace and development.

Speaking during the event, Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok said the ongoing drought has left many families without food and water.

“We are seeking to work with the National government and development partners to venture into agricultural activities that are geared to zero hunger situation,” he said.

Mr Nanok said, they are also pushing their agenda in the council of governors to help them source funds to help in their course.

“Although, we are encouraging our people to move from pastoral livelihoods to venture into agricultural activities, our efforts have been frustrated because our people lack agricultural skills,” he said.

Currently the Turkana County has initiated several farming programmes among them drip irrigation schemes using water from aquifers and near river Turkwel.

Among the development partners which are working with the county government are the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the National Drought Management Authority and several other Non-Governmental Organisations.

Tana River governor Hussein Dado said the county government is embarking of new methods of farming to deal with issues of hunger in the county.

“The Hola and Bura irrigation schemes were able to feed a large population of our people, however the food was not enough to contain the drought situation which forced us to source for relief food,” he said.

The United Nations resident Coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee said the UN is using Turkana County as a model by initiating projects that will be geared at building resilient to drought.

“The UN is working closely with the government to launch programmes in drought prone counties that will help people deal with issues of hunger,” he said.

The National Drought Management Authority Turkana county resilient officer, Emmanuel Malii Kisagau said they are embarking on an off take programme of buying livestock from pastoralists and slaughtering them to feed the hunger stricken families.

“So far we have bought 5,650 goats and sheep at Sh3000 each,” he said.