While the media reports several hunger-related deaths in counties such as Baringo and Turkana, other officials dispute the reports and claim that no deaths have resulted from the drought.
Lawmakers in Kenya are denouncing the government's response to a severe drought that has reportedly left thousands of people starving in at least 12 counties, and are calling on President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare a national disaster.
Reports indicate that two more people have died of hunger in Baringo County and two more in Turkana County, last week.
Rift Valley Regional Coordinator Mongo Chimwanga disputes the reports, saying that measures have been put in place to mitigate the situation, and claiming that there have been no hunger-related deaths, the regional official claims, adding that "no single soul has been lost in Baringo or Turkana counties as reported by the media."
Nelson Loleta, member of the County Assembly for Silale Ward, refuted the claim.
“We wonder why the government is disputing reports that people have died of hunger in Baringo …We have all the records,” the representative said during a relief food distribution in Baringo County on Tuesday. Loleta accuses the provincial administration of going "to the extent of intimidating us and the local chiefs for giving the reports to the media."
The images of starving Kenyans in Baringo and Turkana are unacceptable. Article 43 of the Kenyan constitution says that "every Kenyan has the right to be free from hunger, and to clean and safe water." Someone in this government should be charged with murder by starvation.— Gabriel Oguda (@gabrieloguda) March 16, 2019
Minority leader James Orengo also denounced Chimwanga's assertion, stating, "it is a matter of fact people are dying of famine and hunger in Turkana."
Lawmakers are questioning the use of the 14 Billion shillings allocated by the government specifically for drought response, as well as the commitment of national and county governments to address the crisis.
Both Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula and the Senate majority leader blame the failure of country-wide food distribution for the crisis, pointing out how farmers in breadbasket areas are stuck with an abundance of food while other counties starve.
"The images of emaciated people in Baringo, Turkana and other counties in a nation that is well endowed with natural resources is something that this nation needs to worry about,” Saboti Member of Parliament Caleb Amisi points out.