Deputy President William Ruto on Wednesday insisted that no Kenyan has starved to death because of the drought in parts of the country.
Speaking during the Inter-professional Summit in Mombasa, Dr Ruto dismissed media reports that 11 people have died.
“There is a lot of fake news about what is happening. We have been told that 11 people have died but that is not true. No one has died as a result of the drought and we are working round the clock to ensure that no one dies of hunger,” said Mr Ruto.
He said chiefs who reported the deaths were taken for questioning “as they are playing around with a serious matter”.
The Deputy President further said the country is not facing a food crisis but a challenge in food distribution.
“We are working with other government departments and counties to ensure we accelerate distribution of food across the country,” he said, citing collaboration with parties including the World Food Programme (WFP).
However, several people have reportedly died of hunger-related complications in Tiaty, Baringo County, while thousands of others face starvation as the ongoing drought takes its toll.
Kositei sub-location chief Jack Ronei said deaths linked to hunger have been reported in Kamusuk, Kositei and Seretion, where four people have died. He described the famine situation as dire and called for urgent distribution of relief food to avert more deaths.
In Turkana, which is the most affected according to Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, the situation is just as bad. A locust infestation has worsened the situation, almost depleting the entire vegetation in the county.
In Makueni, thousands of residents are facing starvation following the failure of the short November-December rains, which led to crop failure.
Dr Ruto further said the government had identified both short and long term interventions that will ensure “we get out of a situation which is not an emergency because it is expected”.
On short term interventions, he said rains are expected to fall next Friday according to the Meteorological Department.
“Our long term solution was the construction of dams. As an administration, we decided that this term we will build 57 mega dams meant to store sufficient water and provide permanent solutions to the crisis [facing] livestock and food production,” he said.
However, the government has been on the spot over the phantom Arror and Kimwarer dam projects in Elgeyo-Marakwet County, and an investigation is underway to establish how Sh21 billion was lost.
By Daily Nation