FEBRUARY 8th, 2017.
By Benson Kibiti
Communications and Advocacy
“We hasten to appeal to the Government to declare the current drought a national disaster in order to beckon the International Community to step forward and support the many Kenyans who are suffering from this predicament.” Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo, Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB).
Yesterday, February, 7th 2017-12:30PM at Waumini House Nairobi, the Catholic Bishops of Kenya issued an urgent appeal to local, national, and international bodies as well as individuals to come and join hands in solidarity with the Church by contributing funds, food and non-food items to save lives of communities severely affected by the current drought which is ravaging Kenya “We have been closely monitoring the current drought situation in the Country and reports from our Dioceses and Parishes indicate tales of suffering, desperation, hopelessness and in some cases, imminent loss of life,” warned Bishop Philip Anyolo.
The number of people in need of relief assistance has risen from 1.3 million in August 2016 to 2.7 million.
The Bishop who was accompanied by Caritas President, Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa, Bishop Cornelius Korir of Eldoret, Anthony Muheria of Kitui and Joseph Mbatia of Nyahururu noted that, “…the funds collected would help the Church respond to emergency situation through relief to assist the affected Communities through provision of urgent basic needs.” He further clarified that, Caritas Kenya the Development and Humanitarian Arm of the Catholic Church, would coordinate these initiatives.
The severity of the situation is continuously increasing as is the number of people affected, food shortages, increasing food prices, lack of water and crop failure have increased rates of migration and conflict, malnutrition, and children dropping out of school. It is clear that the impacts of climate change continue to grow and have the potential to set back socio-economic gains and drive more people into poverty
It is evident that Climate change increases vulnerability and the current drought is a clear symptom of chronic vulnerability especially to communities living in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) Counties. Even without the incidences of drought, Kenya is yet to attain food security. A greater part of the Country has been affected by long dry spells due to poor performance of the 2016 March-May long rains as well as the October-December short rains.
Not just drought, but also 2017 Elections
Eldoret Bishop Rt. Rev. Cornelius Korir called on the Government to prioritize citizens’ needs above politics “We are aware there is voter registration going on and shortly thereafter campaigns, but we are asking the Government not to forget the citizens of Kenya. Let us put the people first… because if we leave our people to die, who will then vote for them (leaders)?” he noted.
In his concluding remarks, Bishop Anyolo noted that the Counties most affected by drought are: Garissa, Isiolo, Marsabit, Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River, Lamu, Mandera, Wajir, Samburu, Turkana, West Pokot and Baringo.