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Kenya declares national disaster after 3-year drought

President Uhuru Kenyatta calls for international assistance as 3.7 million Kenyans hit by water shortages

Kenya declares national disaster after 3-year drought

By Magdalene Mukami and Andrew Wasike


President Uhuru Kenyatta declared Friday the drought that has ravaged swathes of Kenya to be a national disaster.

More than 3.7 million people have been hit by the three-year water shortage across 23 Kenyan counties.

Kenyatta made the announcement after being briefed on the situation in the hardest-hit areas by ministers.

He called on local and international partners to support the government's efforts to help those affected. "Support from our partners would complement the government's efforts in mitigating the effects of drought," Kenyatta said in a statement.

The president also warned that profiteers would be dealt with harshly. "The government would take serious measures on those who would try to take advantage of the situation to enrich themselves," he said.

"Let all investigative agencies including the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission get involved in the activities being undertaken during this period. I don’t want the government to be accused of taking advantage of this situation."

Kenya has allocated 11 billion shillings ($106 million) to tackle the effects of the drought until April but international aid is needed to augment this fund.

On Friday, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe.

"Prolonged and worsening drought conditions across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya mean that more than 11 million people are facing severe hunger and are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance," the IFRC said in a statement.

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