Three million bags of maize are being delivered to hunger-stricken families across the country, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa has said.
Mr Wamalwa told the Senate committee on devolution that five counties - Tana River, Kilifi, Taita-Taveta, Kwale and Kajiado - are the most affected by the drought.
The CS told the committee at Sarova Whitesands Hotel in Mombasa Monday that the drought was worsening, but the government was working towards ensuring no one died of hunger.
"We are releasing three million bags of maize from our strategic grain depots to Tana River, Kilifi, Taita-Taveta, Kwale and Kajiado counties. As we speak, trucks loaded with relief food have been dispatched to Tana River and I will personally oversee the exercise," he said.
He said the government had mobilised enough resources to ensure relief food got to the affected families on time. "We know there are more than 200,000 people affected by drought in Kilifi and we are heading there after Tana River," he said.
In the long term, Mr Wamalwa said, the government was developing solutions to address perennial food shortages especially in arid and semi-arid regions.
PELLETS FOR ANIMALS
Tana River Governor Dhadho Godhana Monday flagged off three trucks carrying more than 4,000 bags of pellets for weak and lactating cows.
Residents of north-eastern and some parts of Mt Kenya, especially women and children, are moving to Somalia and Ethiopia in search of food and pasture. Conflict among communities over resources has made the situation worse. Officials said families in Mt Kenya have resorted to eating wild fruits and vegetables.
In Wajir, more than 100,000 people are in need of food aid. Wajir National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) co-coordinator Ahmed Farah said pastoralists had begun migrating towards the Kenya-Somalia border and other areas in search of water and pasture.
He said the county government was delivering water to 50 centres and had increased beneficiaries of the Hunger Safety Net Programme from 18,800 to 32,000 households, raising the cost of the intervention from Sh105 million to Sh150 million.
In Marsabit, NDMA boss Golicha Guyo advised residents to sell their livestock in order to avert losses. "Our animals are already weakening due to lack of pasture and water. Over 1,000 households are seeking food aid," said Illeret chief Michael Moroto.
In Tharaka-Nithi, farmers said they would be forced to move to the upper zones with their livestock to look for food and pasture.
In Nyeri, more than 94,000 people will need food aid for the next six months until farmers harvest in the next season.
Officials said the county will require at least 63,257 bags of maize, 23,667 bags of beans and 15,815 cartons of cooking oil.
Residents of Kieni, Mukurwe-ini and Nyeri Central have been identified as the worst hit.
Households affected by the drought in Mandera County are receiving Sh5,400 every two months to mitigate the situation. "The situation is getting out of hand with livestock owners migrating to Banisa and into interior Ethiopia," said county NDMA director Mohamed Alio. "We are only distributing animal feed but not food to families because we lack this."
Reported by Kazungu Samuel, Bruhan Makong, Irene Mwendwa, Alex Njeru, Irene Mugo and Manase Otsialo