25 March 2019

Kenya: Relief Food Yet to Reach Starving Baringo Residents

Photo: Jared Nyataya/Daily Nation
This image taken on March 17, 2019, shows a villager at Kamekwi in Turkana Central who is in dire need of food.

Thousands of starving residents of Tiaty in Baringo County are yet to receive help despite Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa launching a food distribution programme a week ago.

A spot check by the Nation in the most affected villages including Tirioko ward on Friday revealed a dire situation, even as more than 1,000 bags of maize lie in stores at the sub-county headquarters in Chemolingot.

NO SCHOOL

Tirioko is the hardest hit by the food crisis following the prolonged drought in the region.

Other affected villages include Akoret, Gulel, Kapau, Chesawach, Ng'aina, Katagh and Chesotim.

At Ng'aina, many homesteads were deserted after locals migrated to Mukeluk, Akule, Lomut and Masol in the neighbouring West Pokot County in search of food and water.

At the local shopping centre, we found two young women with four toddlers seated under a tree as they pondered on their next move. They had walked for over 10km to borrow food.

Chepokarial Ng'uriale, 15, with a five-month old baby, said she had not eaten anything for two days. The last meal she took was porridge from a neighbour.

"My neighbours left a month ago and I was left with my baby. I had to trek for over 1okm to see if I could get some food. I am starving and I have no breast milk for my son," Ng'uriale said.

In the neighbouring Katagh village, a grandmother and her six-year-old year granddaughter are said to have died of hunger a week after they were left to fend for themselves as the other family members migrated.

Pkanan Pkemoi, a local, had to walk for 20km to Chepng'erat livestock market to sell his two goats. However, he managed to sell one of them for Sh1,000 instead of the usual Sh3,000.

"I did not know that the government is providing relief food. I am hearing this from you. If it's true they should do it quickly before more locals die of hunger," he said.

At the neighbouring Chesotim Primary School, the number of pupils has reduced from 200 to 30.

SEVERAL LORRIES

Mr Simion Akoma, the head teacher, said he has been borrowing food from the neighbouring Korelach Primary School to feed his pupils but the 50kg bag of rice he got a week ago is now depleted. "We cooked the last meal (boiled rice) on Friday," Mr Akoma said.

A family in Tugum village risk starving to death. Their three-year-old son can no longer walk due to the biting hunger.

His mother, Cheparwada Nguriatada, said she doesn't have enough food to feed her four young children. "This boy was well until two weeks ago but he is now very weak to even talk or cry," Nguriatada said as her five-month-old cried after suckling an empty breast.

Chepilat residents are praying that relief food will reach them before they starve to death.

"We saw several lorries heading to Chemolingot with bags of maize some days ago but we are yet to receive any," said Solomon Lochokee whose wife died of hunger three weeks ago.

However, Tiaty Deputy County Commissioner Jacob Awuor said food is now available but they have no funds to fuel vehicles to transport the food to the far-flung areas.

"We have plenty of food at our stores in Chemolingot but we are yet to get funding from the government to fuel lorries that will distribute the food," Mr Awuor said.

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