Excerpt : Death by starvation is the same as State terrorism. Innocent lives taken away due to willful negligence by the State. Every year, the nation reacts to death and starvation splashed on our TV screens, with hollow pledges that it will not recur again.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Death by starvation is the same as State terrorism. Innocent lives taken away due to willful negligence by the State. Every year, the nation reacts to death and starvation splashed on our TV screens, with hollow pledges that it will not recur again. Malnourished Kenyans wasting away under extreme hunger and thirst, their livelihoods destroyed by ravaging drought. Unashamedly, Government officials are more interested in downplaying the statistics of the dead, and outright denials.

Yet, life is sacred. It is painful to lose innocent lives through utter neglect and dereliction of duty, just as painfully as we lose lives in terrorist attacks. Recently, DCI stated that those plundering public resources are same as the terrorists who attacked Dusit complex recently. I couldn’t agree more. The Government at whatever level, has a duty to ensure all Kenyans have food and water as basic essential provisions. Several Government institutions exist to advise it on the status of the food situation, including monitoring the drought situation.

The National Drought Management Agency (NDMA) issues monthly early warning bulletin on the status of drought and famine in the country, shared with all the relevant ministries. In its December 2018 bulletin published on its website, they sounded ALARM on “depletion and worsening food situation” in pastoral sector in Turkana, Baringo and several other counties. There was no reaction until pictures of dead or dying Kenyans were aired also week.

The early warnings are an annual ritual. For instance, in Feb 2017 OCHA reports, “The number of food insecure people more than doubled – from 1.3 million to 2.7 million. Some 357,285 children and pregnant and lactating mothers are acutely malnourished. Half the counties affected”. In May 2017, the same organization reports “More than 2.6 million Kenyans were severely food insecure as of 26 May 2017 — and this number was rapidly rising. High levels of malnutrition are prevalent across the arid and semi-arid lands. Severe drought has dried up water resources in half of Kenya’s 47 counties and an estimated 3 million people lack access to clean water.” In January 2018, UNICEF reports “drought conditions that are expected to persist into 2018 have left 3.4 million people severely food insecure and an estimated 500,000 people without access to water. An estimated 482,882 children require treatment for acute malnutrition, including 104,614 who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition”. In January 2019, FEWSNET warned that due to “significantly below average short rains in Oct to Dec 2018” deterioration in food security will be “widespread between February to May 2019”. Despite these and several other regular warnings, the shenanigans in our Government can blame the weather, and not themselves.

In 2013, this Government committed itself to Vision 2030 strategy to End Drought Emergencies (EDE) between 2014 – 2018 in the Arid & Semi-Arid areas of the country, targeting 15 million people, at a cost of Shs 48 billion through NDMA. Under the strategy, there will no famine as a result of drought. Five years later, and after spending over sh 12 trillion in its public expenditure, the strategy is gathering dust on the shelves. We don’t hear too about multi-billion shilling dams in these arid areas, even phantom ones. Regrettably, the clueless county ‘fat cats’ administrations whose raison d’être is closer services to Wanainchi live on cloud nine, oblivious of the suffering of their residents. Last month, they met in Garissa as pastoralist leaders but impending drought and famine did not feature in pronouncements! 

 

No Gov’t official even bothers to visit the starving in their locations, or console the bereaved. A contemptible State to whom poor lives do not matter. How could such a Government still talk about building commuter trains, digitalize IDs, Nuclear power plants, etc when it cannot feed its poor? Washindwe!

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