Frail women and children, despair written all over their faces queued patiently to receive relief food in Tiaty, constituency, Baringo county yesterday.
News that Devolution Cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa is visiting the area to oversee distribution of relief food yesterday spread like bush fire reviving hope of many, who are staring at death because of starvation.
When the CS and the trucks carrying food arrived at around 4:00 pm, more than 100 people were already waiting in queue.
One by one, they received their share and headed home knowing they have received more energy to face tomorrow. Seven people have reportedly died at Kamusuk and Silale area in the constituency over starvation while others have resorted to eating wild fruits to subdue hunger pangs.
The death of seven people in Baringo raises the number of dead to 11 after two people died of hunger at Nakaparaparai village in Turkana county. Last week, two people had also died in Kang’irisai location. Ibrahim Emase, a resident of Nakaparaparai village claimed two people died in the village adding that some people are unable to walk because of hunger and thirst.
Tiaty MP William Kamket told the People Daily on phone that seven people have died in his constituency. “Its true seven people have died of hunger in my constituency. Four have died in my village Kamusuk and three in Silale,” he said.
He warned that more deaths might occur if action is not taken urgently adding most schools have been closed down. “More than 100 water pans have dried up as well as boreholes used by the residents,” he added.
But Devolution Cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa speaking during an interview at K24 TV station last evening refuted claims that some Kenyans have died of hunger. “No one has died of hunger and we urge the authorities to investigate the real cause of the said deaths,” he said.
He insisted that Kenya was food secure after a bumper harvest last season saying that the situation is worse in arid and semi-arid areas because of poor relief food distribution procedure.
Article 43 of the Constitution establishes Kenyans’ right “to be free from hunger and have adequate food of acceptable quality”.
Tirioki Ward MCA Sam Lokales has criticised government officials refuting claims that some people have died of hunger.
“It is true people have died because of hunger and the government should accept that it has failed in addressing the drought. Chiefs and media should not be gagged for reporting the truth,” he said.
Turkana Governor Joseph Nanok, who claimed there was no crisis or disaster echoed Wamalwa’s sentiments. He said locust invasion has been a challenge but they are addressing it.
“Social media has been awash with pictures from past cases, others not Kenyan of victims of drought and other disasters. This widespread misinformation undermines effort by government and partners to address the situation which, though serious, isn’t in level depicted through the images,” he said.
Wamalwa said that a total of 865,000 people are in dire need of relief food, water, and other humanitarian aid to avert casualties.
No cause for alarm
Turkana is hard hit with at least 192,000 people affected while Kilifi, Baringo, Wajir, Mandera, Tana River, Garissa, Marsabit, Kwale, West Pokot, Makueni and Kajiado counties are in dire need of aid.
Meanwhile, the Government has set aside Sh5 billion to respond to the ongoing drought that is being experienced in 12 counties among them Baringo and Turkana.
While launching five tonnes of foodstuff in Chemolingot in Tiaty Baringo county, Wamalwa yesterday said there should be no cause for alarm. “Indeed, there is drought but there was no need for alarm as the Government is already prepaired to respond as there is enough reserve food stuff and money,” he said.
Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis said they will work closely with the National government in addressing the disaster.
He said his government has set aside Sh13 million for emergency response and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has received Sh3.5 million for school feeding programme and water distribution.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), malnutrition remains unacceptably high, with 29 per cent of children in rural areas and 20 per cent of those living in cities stunted.