ASALs continue experiencing hunger problems due to bad policies

Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa said climate change and global warming issues have led to the drought menace
Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa said climate change and global warming issues have led to the drought menace

Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALS) continue to suffer from hunger due to poor policies and bad governance. This is according to a baseline survey conducted by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in collaboration with ‘I Serve Kenya’ initiative between 14th and 24th February 2018 in Kabarnet and Kapenguria respectively.

Among the Counties include Baringo and West Pokot, which according to the report lacks proper policies in place to enhance sustainable food security.

KAS Programmes Coordinator Kenya Edwin Ottichilo has said in February six people including a five-year-old child died due hunger-related illnesses amid prolonged harsh droughts in Baringo County.

The deceased were among over 30,000 victims of starvation across the County owing to prolonged drought since September last year.

Speaking in Kapenguria, Ottichilo said the study further reveals Members of County Assembly (MCAs) from these Counties are yet to set up policies to inform the
executive arms on what should be done to alleviate the perennial hunger situation. “County assemblies do not pass bills to help on early warning systems and they don’t pass budgets for food security,” he said.

The study established that MCAs were yet to participate in debates or present motions that used EWS data to inform policy and County development strategies plans, even though they showed interest.

Instead, only 3 out of the 10 MCAs in the FGD indicated having used existing traditional EW information to gain perspective of an impending drought disaster in their Wards. Other departments also put on notice for laxity include water, health, livestock and agriculture. “Among the respondents we selected for interviews were MCAs, County assembly clerks and Members of the County Steering Groups,” he said.

The expert further noted that Baringo usually experiences hunger for a period of 3 to 4 months between February-June while West Pokot suffers the same for 4 to 6 months from January to February to July.

The study shows that due to persistent droughts among other weather challenges and crop diseases farmers harvest little foodstuffs from their farms that could not sustain them throughout the year. “Majority (55.9%) of the respondents say the flood stock in stores would normally get depleted within the first 4 to 6 months. This implies that drought-resistant root, tuber and crops are not so popular in the communities, despite high potential for them growing well in the ASAL areas,” said Ottichillo.

He said recommendations were however made for the population to grow drought-tolerant root and tuber crops, such as sweet potatoes and cassava as a strategy for improving food security.