Garissa drought worsens, Jama terms it disaster, pleads for aid

Schoolchildren view the carcass of a buff alo that died after it stuck in mud in one of the Ijara subcounty dams on Tuesday /STEPHEN ASTARIKO
Governor Nathif Jama has declared the worsening drought in Garissa a disaster and called for urgent help.

He has urged the national government to intervene and assist residents to avoid loss of lives. Jama spoke in Masalani on Saturday, when he flagged off a convoy of lorries ferrying relief food to subwards in Ijara. The subcounty is especially hard hit by the drought.

Jama said his administration cannot do much to assist victims because of meagre resources. He urged the national government to move with speed and assist affected families.

“This is a drought the county has not seen for the past 200 years. It is for this reason that we call on the national government to be responsive and proactive. We are suffering,” Jama said.

“Drought [management] is not a devolved function. All we can do, as a county, is compliment the government’s efforts in ensuring no lives or livestock are lost.”

He said the national government, through the National Drought Management Authority and the Kenya Food Steering Group, which have bigger budgets, should tackle the drought.

Jama also appealed to friends and partners to come to the aid of the suffering. Learning has stopped in most schools, as children help their parents to seek water and pasture.

Womankind Kenya’s Child Programme coordinator Hassan Ismail accused the government of being reluctant to respond swiftly to the current crisis, which, he said, has largely affected women and children.

“The government has all the machinery to mitigate the current crisis. But it’s like they are waiting for the emergency level, when many livestock and human lives are lost,” he said.

Ismail said they have done drought assessment in the county. He said the problem is severe and needs urgent intervention from all stakeholders. “There is no effort being made to reverse this trend,” he said.The Star

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