Nairobi — Governors from 13 counties ravaged by the current drought now want President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare the crisis a national disaster.
Governors Martin Wambora (Embu), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia) and Charity Ngilu (Kitui) made the appeal as they declared the situation on the ground is worsening by the day.
Speaking after a consultative meeting at the Council of Governors Headquarters, the county bosses urged the National Treasury to expedite distribution of funds to the counties to avert the situation that has left more than 1.1 million Kenyans facing starvation.
Governors Ngilu and Muriithi said there is need to come up with measures to prepare well before it the situation worsens due to the failing rains.
"We must as the two levels of government and key partners, engage in long-term investments that will build community resilience in the wake of climate change. We wish to assure Kenyans that the County Governments have put in place aggressive measures to ensure that Kenyans access food and water during this period," the Laikipia Governor said.
Ngilu and Kibwana added that multi-faceted interventions will help deal with the various faces and implications of the drought crisis.
"We really would like now to bring together all the resources in the country and to help address the situation. The situation is very bad indeed," said the Kitui Governor.
On his part Kibwana noted: This is a crisis that has to be handled carefully. This is the time as a country, as a people, as leadership should focus on a crisis that affects our people fundamentally and de-emphasise the politics, because a time comes when a people have to focus on what is completely necessary and then later pursue other concerns."
Governor Wambora said affected County Governments have mobilised bowsers to distribute water to residents.
"In the lower Embu County we have about 150,000 people affected and we are working closely with the national government to contain the situation," he said.
On March 20, Deputy President William Ruto announced that the government had disbursed Sh1.4 billion of the Sh1.72 billion that's required to facilitate the mitigation efforts in the 13 counties which require immediate interventions to provide food and water for people and livestock.
The funds disbursed were to be used in coordinating relief activities in affected areas in the months of February, March and April 2019.
The counties adversely affected include Turkana, Samburu, Wajir, Mandera, Garissa, Baringo, Kilifi, Tana River, West Pokot, Marsabit, Makueni and Kajiado.
A report by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) states that the below-average short rains have slightly increased the food insecure population from 655,800 in August 2018 to the current 1,111,500 with the top 12 counties having a total of 865,300 food-insecure people.