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Kenya to spend U.S. $13 million dollars on purchasing livestock

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya has set aside 13 million U.S. dollars for a livestock offtake program aimed at mitigating the effects of the ongoing drought, an official said Wednesday.

Vice Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Andrew Tuimur told journalists that the government is prioritizing the purchase of animals in drought-hit areas in order to cushion farmers from losses.

"Already 6 million dollars has been used to purchase livestock from farmers in the drought-hit areas," Tuimur said, adding nother 6.5 million dollars will be spent next week for livestock purchase.

The official said that animal herders have been one of the biggest causalities of the drought.

Farmers of key export crops such as tea are also being affected by the lack of rainfall that has led to water rationing in many urban centers.

The drought which began last year has affected 23 counties so far.

Humanitarian organizations estimate that at least 1.5 million people are in need of food aid.

The government will slaughter the animals purchased and use them to feed the locals.

The livestock offtake program is part of the measures instituted to mitigate the effects of the drought. Others include a program to supply food to schools which will in turn reduce fees for students.

Meanwhile, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the government will distribute relief food to schools in arid and semi-arid counties to ensure learning is not affected by the drought.

"As national government we are taking this issue to Parliament requesting them to realign the budget and allocate funds to purchase food for Kenyans affected by drought," he said on Wednesday in Kitui, eastern Kenya, when he flagged off a convoy of water boozers and trucks loaded with relief food and hay for livestock to be sent to affected families.

Kenyatta said the government will scale down funds for some of its development projects as part of its measures to enhance relief efforts.

The East African nation is facing a prolonged drought, which experts have warned could further worsen the food insecurity.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said in a report early this month that the food security situation will continue to worsen over the next few months due to failure of the short rains.

"The short rains season was too brief and too weak to have any meaningful impact on recovery.

For counties where both the long rains and the short rains were below normal, conditions are already very poor," the agency said in its early warning bulletin.



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