As drought continues to ravage many parts of the country, more than 55,000 residents of Kieni constituency in Nyeri county are in dire need of relief food following crop failure for the last five seasons.
According to figures released by the National Drought Management Authority, the most affected residents are from Thegu, Mugunda and the lower parts of Mwiyogo, where animals have started to die due to lack of pastures.
A survey in some of the most affected villages has revealed several carcasses of dead animals, while most rivers have dried up with no signs of the short rains in sight.
Residents here say that the last time they had a harvest was in 2019, when there was adequate rainfall.
"For the last three to four years, we have not harvested in our farms due to crop failure due to no rainfall. As of now, the rivers have dried up and our animals are dying one after another," a resident from Thung'ari village said.
Another resident said they are forced to sell their livestock at a throwaway price to enable them to buy animal feeds for the rest.
"Our animals are dying as there is nothing for them to feed on. We are forced to sell one cow at sh 1000 and sheep at sh 500 and we use the money to buy hay which is too dry for our animals to keep them alive," another resident said.
As a result of this, Nyeri leaders led by Governor Mutahi Kahiga have urged the government to release Ksh1.5B disbursement funds to enable the County to put up intervention measures and ensure no cases of human deaths be reported as a result of hunger.
"We, as the county government, have no contingency funds. What we are to do now is to pay our workers. We have not received our July up to September allocation, so we can't help at the moment," Kahiga said.
The leaders also said Nyeri County should be listed as ASAL county as Kieni is an arid area consisting of 52 percent of the entire County.
"Any visitor coming to Kieni might think that grass from this area is white, not knowing that it is due to drought. The County should be listed as an ASAL county as it deserves," Senator Wahome Wamatinga said.
He also said that they will push to ensure the construction of Narumoro and Kariminu dams is hastened to make Kieni an arable grain basket for the County and the nation at large.
"With the construction of these two dams Kieni which is very fertile, will not just be self-sufficient in terms of food but will also act as a grain store for the entire nation. That is why we are pushing for two dams, " Wamatinga said.
Area Member of Parliament Njoroge Wainaina and his Mathira counterpart Eric Wamumbi urged the government to put up intervention measures to prevent any loss of lives.
"We have been facing the problem of a drought year in and year out due to lack of adequate rainfall and as legislators from this county, we will work for hand in hand to ensure that we find a permanent solution for this," Wainaina said.