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Thousands in Taita-Taveta County in danger of starvation 

Over  77,600 people in Taita Taveta County are facing starvation following a severe drought in the region.

The current drought being experienced in the region has affected several areas in Voi, Mwatate, Wundanyi and Taveta. Some of the hardest hit areas, include Kasighau, Kajire, Ndara and Marungu in Voi sub-county. Mahandakini in and sections of Mata in Taveta sub-county ward have also reported cases of starvation. Other areas that have reported acute starvation are Kishushe, Mwaroko and Mlilo in Wundanyi and Mgheno in Mwatate.

Speaking to KNA on Wednesday, Joram Oranga, Project Coordinator for Red Cross Society of Kenya in the county termed the situation in the county as delicate, adding  that his organization was partnering with well wishers and stake holders to mobilize resources to help those facing drought and starvation.

According to the data from his office, 77694 people, including women, men and children were facing starvation.

‘’We are monitoring the situation even as we partner with other stake holders to mobilize resources to fight the drought’’ he said.

He  warned that the situation might get worse if the drought continued.

Taita Taveta County is considered as an Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) area. The many areas of the county rely on government relief food. The situation is slowly becoming worse even as traditional food baskets like Taveta and Wundanyi shows signs of food depression.

Oranga said his officers were on the ground gathering more data on the extent of the current crisis.

When contacted, Michael Kimithi, the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) County Coordinator  said crops and livestock were also showing signs of early stress due to the drought. There has not been rains since late 2018 which had devastated pastures for livestock.

He further noted that the expected long rains will start at end of March and last until early May. This period, he said, was not enough to make farmers get sufficient harvest from their farms.

‘’Long rains are not expected to stay for long, it is expected to last for 6 weeks only which is not enough to grow crops and therefore need for urgent intervention by the government’’ he said.

The official report by NDMA and other stakeholders on the drought situation will be released on Friday. It is expected to also give an action plan on what is needed to mitigate the situation.

Currently 5,000 homesteads are enrolled in government cash transfer programme with each family getting ksh. 2500 per month for their upkeep. This is part of the government initiative plan to litigate against drought at household level.

By  Waceera  Miguro

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