NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 28 – Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Farah Maalim on Thursday accused the government of being short sighted, saying it ignored early warning signs of the famine that has affected more than four million Kenyans.
The Lagdera MP said that the government’s failure to plan and put in place adequate measures to mitigate the effects of the ravaging famine was to blame for the loss of lives and livestock in the northern part of the country. He argued that the warning bells were sounded by various organisations yet the government ignored them and failed to cushion the vulnerable communities against the drought.
“As a government, we have year in year out, failed to plan for this kind of natural calamity. Joseph Mukabana (Director of the Kenya Meteorological Department) told us that the rains would fail and we would face a drought,” he said.
“So we have never as a government seriously planned. We have failed to plan!” he added.
He also observed that some of the steps that the government had set up to help deal with the drought had never materialised. Mr Maalim said that the Sh1billion which had been set aside by the government to buy livestock from communities that have been caught up in the crisis, was yet to be released. He added that water pans which were to be set up in areas that were most at risk had also not been created. He cited stringent bureaucracies in the government systems as the main obstacles that were delaying the implementation of various aid related projects.
“The livestock, up until about four weeks ago, were very strong. We could have turned it into resources if we took them to the Kenya Meat Commission and slaughtered them but the off take was never actualised,” he said. He spoke as Cabinet announced plans to hold an international conference in Kenya, aimed at creating immediate and long lasting solution to the crisis. It also announced that the National Youth Service and the military would be used to disburse the foods.
Somalia’s Ambassador to Kenya Mohammed Noor added that there was need to set up feeding camps in Somalia so as to control the influx of refugees moving to Ethiopia and Kenya. He said that the new camps would also prevent loss of lives as they would ensure that the food got to the targeted communities in a timely fashion. “We want them to feed the people in their cities and houses so that the people can stop moving to the camps,” he said.
He added that there was need for the government to increase transparency and circumvent the bureaucracies so as to ensure that the aid reached the targeted people. He mentioned Turkana, Pokot, Marakwet, Samburu, Isiolo and Moyale districts as some of those that were worst hit. “Some people use the drought situations to corruptly acquire money. It’s like they just wait for such calamities to recur so that they can line up their pockets and take advantage of the situation,” he argued.
Mr Maalim also urged Kenyans and other international partners to continue donating aid to the communities that were at risk so as to prevent the further loss of lives.
Ibrahim Ahmed, Director Northern Kenya caucus, also urged donors to take their aid into Somalia.