Photograph — CGTN Africa

Kenyans have taken to social media to express their displeasure over the news of China’s donation of food aid to the African country to tackle the ongoing severe drought.

Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Devolution and ASALs, Eugene Wamalwa, on Wednesday revealed that China had donated 30,000 bags of rice to support government efforts to combat drought in parts of the country.

“Just received a donation of 30,000 bags Of rice from The People’s Republic of China to compliment Government of Kenya, GOK, relief food distribution,” Wamalwa said in a tweet.

The Secretary added that necessary safety clearance had been undertaken by relevant state authorities. And a number of governors and political leaders from the affected counties graced the flagging off ceremony.

In response, Kenyans slammed the government for the apparent dependence on food donations for the survival of its citizens. “With a country capable of feeding herself. It’s a shame. A big one! Nothing to be proud of!,” a user wrote on Twitter. Another added, “A “flag-off” …sigh. Sometimes these people are just misusing that flag.”

Millions facing starvation

As drought and food security in Kenya continues to deteriorate, the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) on Wednesday warned that over 2.5 million people are now at risk of starvation. While populations in the arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) areas are either facing a food crisis or an emergency situation.

According to the agency, the number of people currently facing acute food shortage is 2.6 million people. This represents an increase from the estimated 1.6 million people during the mid-season assessment as of May this year.

Up to half of Kenya’s 47 counties (23 of them) are affected by the drought according to Wamalwa. “This means that households in these counties have moderate to large food consumption gaps and above usual acute malnutrition as a result of the prevailing drought or are only marginally able to meet minimum food needs by depleting essential assets or employing crisis and emergency coping strategies,” the NDMA said in a report.

More so, the report says those in need of relief assistance have more than doubled from 1.1 million in February 2019, and the figures could rise to over three million people by October. The Acute Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) assessment was conducted between June 1 and 19, 2019, in 23 ASAL counties.

On the cause of the drought, the NDMA explained that the current situation was triggered by a below-average, delayed start and poor performance of the March-May long rains season, especially in pastoral and marginal agricultural areas.

The insufficient rains received in most ASAL counties during the season, therefore, led to low recharge of surface water sources (such as water pans, shallow wells, and dams) the East African reports, with most sources holding less than 50 percent of their capacities.

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