Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has appealed to partners to support the Government in scaling up the school feeding programme.
Speaking when he received and flagged off 25,000 metric tons of wheat and 16,000 metric tons of sorghum from Ukraine at the Port of Mombasa, Gachagua said meals would keep children from drought and famine-affected areas in school as well as secure their future.
“Many children have dropped out of school because of hunger. I am sending a special appeal to our partners to chip in and support the school meal programme,” he said.
The World Food Programme handed over the school meal programme to the government of Kenya in 2018.
But with the prolonged drought – the longest in 40 years – more children have become vulnerable as the government has limited resources.
“The programme continues to be beneficial since 2018. It, however, faces challenges in reach. While the World Food Programme has committed to supporting us in resource mobilisation to reach more children, we appeal to other partners to join us in keeping the children in school. It is one of the ways of securing their future,” he said.
The receiving and flagging off of the relief food event was attended by Ambassadors from the donating countries among them Meg Whitman of the US.
The wheat, which was delivered from Ukraine by the WFP, was bought with funds from the United Kingdom, Norway, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic.
The 16,000 metric tons of sorghum were bought by the United States of America through USAID.
The food left the Port of Mombasa for North Eastern counties and other pockets of other areas traditionally not classified as arid and semi-arid regions.
The government has been working with more than 90 national and international organisations in mitigating famine since it was declared a disaster in 2021.
Currently, at least 5.4 million Kenyans are facing starvation while more than 2.6 million livestock have died.
The Deputy President said the government has set aside about Ksh. 23.8 billion for diverse mitigation measures including water trucking, cash and food transfers, livestock feeds, among others between April and October, 2023.
“While these short term and midterm responses remain key, we are scaling up resilient interventions alongside our partners like World Food Programme, which is working with smallholder farmers in building a strong food security system. We welcome more support on resilience from our partners,” Gachagua said at the Mombasa Port function.
He also appealed to farmers to integrate smart agriculture alongside growing of quick maturing and drought tolerant crops.
In addition, he asked citizens to grow more trees during these rains as a sustainable measure against climate change.”If we must defeat climate change, it is befitting to grow at least a tree a day towards our goal of 15 billion trees by 2032,” Gachagua said.