Editorials

Move with speed to help the victims of drought

drought

A herds boy walks on a dry dam at Lerata area in Samburu East on July 15, 2021. The National Drought Management Authority projected a drought was likely to hit the country from August to December. PHOTO | CHEBOITE KIGEN | NMG

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Summary

  • Millions of Kenyans facing starvation have some reason to be hopeful after President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the current drought a natural disaster.
  • It has taken months of nudging from humanitarian agencies and local leaders in the most affected regions for the declaration to be made, and subsequently, the appropriate assistance offered.

Millions of Kenyans facing starvation have some reason to be hopeful after President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the current drought a natural disaster.

It has taken months of nudging from humanitarian agencies and local leaders in the most affected regions for the declaration to be made, and subsequently, the appropriate assistance offered.

Hopefully, it will not take as long to distribute the much needed aid.

With the National Drought Management Authority warning that the number of people in dire need could quickly rise to 2.4 million, the authorities don’t have the luxury of time. This is not the time to entertain unnecessary bureaucratic red tape, not with so many lives on the line.

But even as the government moves to ensure that adequate food and water is available to the households, it is crucial to seal all the loopholes that can be exploited by unscrupulous persons to profit from the crisis

We have seen it in past crises when tenderpreneurs became overnight billionaires supplying goods at exorbitant prices. Such individuals have no moral scruples and there is no reason to believe that given the chance they won’t turn this crisis into a gravy train.

This drought is also an indictment on State’s planning. As early as January the signs were clear and humanitarian agencies had already raised the red flag.

Unfortunately, no action was forthcoming.

A half-hearted response to calls for the crisis to be declared a national disaster and dispassionate appeals for funds for food and safety nets suggest that the government has until now not considered the drought a priority.

Did the situation have to deteriorate to the point where residents in the affected regions have to resort to gathering wild and potentially poisonous fruits to survive as has been reported these past few months?

It is undignifying to the millions of drought victims and shameful to government officials charged with planning.

With proper planning such suffering could have been avoided. This crisis should not go to waste. It should be a chance to learn and do better next time.