21 March 2019

Kenya: Mbadi, Junet Call Out Ruto Over Hunger Remark

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) lawmakers want President Uhuru Kenyatta to initiate an urgent response to mitigate drought affecting 17 counties, as they criticised his deputy over recent remarks on the issue.

National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi criticised Deputy President William Ruto for claiming that no human life has been lost due to starvation.

"Kenyans are not specimens to die in the affected areas so that those in authority [may] know it is hunger that has killed them. The more he continues to talk on national issues, the more he annoys us," he said.


Suna East MP Junet Mohammed questioned why Kenyans are starving yet there is enough food, also terming Dr Ruto's remarks as unfortunate.

"We have listened patiently to comments by senior government officials on this grave matter, and we do not see the kind of seriousness we expect to see from their statements. By saying that the news that people have died is 'fake', yet government officials on the ground have confirmed [reports of death to be true], is careless, irresponsible and insensitive," Mr Mohammed said on Thursday.

The affected counties are Wajir, Tana River, West Pokot, Tharaka Nithi, Samburu, Nyeri, Marsabit, Laikipia, Mandera, Lamu, Kitui, Kilifi, Isiolo, Garissa, Embu, Baringo and Turkana.

The Kenya Red Cross is seeking about Sh800 million to help more than one million people facing hunger. Secretary-General Abbas Gullet said people have died from famine and drought.


Dr Ruto on Wednesday said reports from the media and local leaders that about 21 Kenyans have died of hunger are false.

He went further to say that the chiefs would be summoned for questioning, something that has displeased the ODM leaders. He said the only problem blighting the country is food distribution, not food crisis.

To tackle the issue, he said the national and county governments are working together to intensify food distribution.

"There is a lot of fake news about what is happening. We have been told that 11 people have died, but that is not true. No one has died as a result of the drought; and we are working round the clock to ensure that no one dies of hunger," he said in Mombasa during the Inter-professional Summit.

He said about Sh1.4 billion was disbursed for drought response in February, March and April 2019.


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