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Kenya vows to find lasting solution to drought crisis

08-04-2011 15:47 BJT

NAIROBI, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government has said it is committed to finding a permanent solution to the perennial drought which is currently ravaging several parts of the east African nation.

Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta said that the government has made adequate provisions in the current budget to ease the effects of the drought. "While we recognize that our current efforts will not bear fruits immediately, there is need to seize the opportunity to remain focused on breaking the cycle of food insecurity by zealously implementing the programs we have started in this financial year," Kenyatta said in a statement received by Xinhua on Thursday.

Drought conditions in Kenya's northern and northeastern districts have deteriorated further after the poor March-June rains. The food crisis is expected to peak in August and September.

According to UN agencies, Kenya is currently facing its worst drought in six decades, with over 3.5 million Kenyans, mainly in northern Kenya are staring at imminent starvation and death.

The situation has been exacerbated by runaway inflation, a poor maize crop for the current season and a ballooning refugee crisis in ever unstable Somalia and Kenya's northern neighbor.

The 2011 has been classified as the driest year on record in the Eastern Horn of Africa, and the health, livelihoods and food security of millions of Kenyans continues to be put at serious risk.

According to the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET), an estimated 700,000 people in the northern part of the country (Turkana, Pokot, Marsabit, Isiolo, Mandera, Wajir, and Garissa Counties) could be classified as highly food insecure.

Kenyatta said 94.4 million U.S. dollars will go toward expanding irrigation projects, 24 million dollars for water harvesting, 400 million dollars for the establishment of a livestock off take fund, 10.3 million dollars for other strategic interventions in ASAL areas while a further 26.7 million dollars will act as safety net to cushion the poor and vulnerable groups.

He pointed out that the Kenyan government has implemented various strategic interventions especially in the areas of irrigation under the Economic Stimulus Program, expanded budget for dams, pans, boreholes and water harvesting as well as enhanced food relief and drought mitigation initiatives.

"However the scale of disaster associated with worsening drought has increased and we recognize that more resources are now required to mitigate its effects on the lives of our fellow Kenyans," he said. The minister said the government has taken a "bold step" to respond to the current drought related challenges while at the same time initiating medium to long term measures through countrywide irrigation to transform the country to a net exporter of food.

About 16 million dollars has been set aside in the current budget for strategic interventions to deal with drought.

The funds will go toward expansion of irrigation and water harvesting projects as well as other strategic interventions in arid and semi arid areas.

This latest development came as the Kenyan government and other charitable organizations scaled up relief distribution efforts as the drought situation threatens to get out of control.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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