Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua Thursday pressed for more support from local and international partners in the battle against a prolonged drought the country is battling following inadequate rainfall over the last five years.
Speaking when he joined members of the Lions Clubs International to celebrate the 45th Lions Day with the United Nations at the UN offices in Gigiri, Nairobi, Gachagua said the government was keen on strengthening ties with like-minded partners to find long-term solutions to challenges facing the country.
“We call for more partnership and commitment to long-term solutions. Some of our long-term investments include drilling of more boreholes and intensifying water harvesting through mega dams across the country,” said the DP when he delivered a keynote address during the event.
The government, with support from the United Nations and other foreign partners, has rolled out mitigation programmes to avert more losses to the drought.
An ongoing drought response initiative bringing together stakeholders in the public and private sector is geared towards ramping up donations to support the programmes.
The National Steering Committee on Drought Response has already distributed relief supplies to 14,300 food insecure households in affected areas in Kilifi, Kitui, Samburu, Marsabit and Meru.
While acknowledging the Ksh. 47.8 billion the country had received so far from the United Nations agencies and other national and international non-state actors, the DP called for more financial support to ensure the response programmes bear fruit.
“We need at least Ksh. 57.36 billion for short-term and mid term programmes, which will be gradually implemented until October 2023. In an effort to make food more affordable, we have also subsidized production by availing farm inputs at cheaper rates,” he said.
The DP challenged the Lions Club to support the government’s plan to plant 15 billion trees by 2032 under the Jaza Miti Initiative launched last November by President William Ruto.
The initiative targets to increase the nation’s forest cover to 30 percent.
He also praised the Clubs for standing to be counted during the Covid-19 pandemic saying they made positive contributions to efforts to save lives.
“When the Covid-19 pandemic ravaged the world, the 48,000 Lions Clubs across the globe and more than 1.4 million volunteers made a great impact on humanity as lockdowns and clouds of uncertainty rocked the world. They saved many lives,” he said.
Further, the DP pushed the developed countries to honour their commitment of mobilizing $100 billion per year for climate change mitigation programmes in developing nations as entailed in the Paris Agreement.
“Developed countries need to honour the Paris Agreement for the emerging economies like Kenya to implement their side of the bargain as we seek to collectively lower the average temperature rise, deeper than 1.5 Degrees Celsius target in our climate action,” the DP said.
So far, 5.3 million Kenyans are facing starvation in 31 counties as the rains continue to falter.
Between November 2022 and January 2023, the country lost 1,180 wild animals to drought, key among them 262 elephants.
The DP said the government spent over Ksh.360 million over the three-month period for water and feeds to sustain the wildlife.