Government needs Sh11.4bn to address food shortage

The government will require an additional Sh11.4 billion to address food shortage and the attendant rise of malnutrition across the country.

This emerged on Sunday as the full impact of the drought came to the fore.

In his weekly media briefing, State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu said the shortage of rainfall has necessitated further financial input to assist the three million Kenyans affected by drought.

“The nutrition situation is extremely critical, with acute malnutrition levels of above 30 per cent in Turkana, Turkana North, Mandera, Marsabit and North Horr. In addition, critical levels of malnutrition are recorded in Baringo East, Isiolo, and the rest of Turkana,” he said. The revelations come two weeks after the President declared drought a national disaster.

The findings on malnutrition mean that the government must respond fast since insufficient nutrients in children can affect their future growth and alertness.

According to United Nations International Children’s Fund (Unicef), malnutrition can permanently hinder a child from growing up normally. In Kenya, Unicef says that 337,292 children under five years require treatment for moderate acute malnutrition while another 75,300 are severely malnourished.

The additional financial requirement means that the government has revised its estimates for the relief programme which the Ministry of Devolution had earlier said should go on to August, costing an additional Sh9 billion from April.

Already, the government says it has spent Sh5.4 billion to address drought between November last year and January. The ministry said it would require Sh11.6 billion to cover February to April and a further Sh7.1 billion to extend the relief efforts to August.

But it has only allocated Sh7.3 billion for the remaining phases, meaning it may need assistance of an additional Sh11.4 billion from donors.

The government hopes that by declaring the drought a national disaster, it will mobilise corporates and donors to help meet the financial obligation.

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