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Drought deaths: Gov’t should wake up from slumber and avoid the ‘fake news’ excuse

BY STEVE ONDIEKI
A friend of mine from high school once told me that ‘we cannot argue about facts, because a fact will remain to be a fact’.

Those words replayed through memory as I read, or rather scanned, The Star newspaper of Thursday March 21, 2019.

In the editorial cartoon, a chief stands with a Jubilee government banner, with a writing of his offence: “being untruthful while drunk.”

The cartoonist explains that the “Chief who revealed starvation deaths ‘sacked’”.

That speaks volumes vis-a-vis the government’s efforts in addressing hunger in the disaster-stricken zones.

The government, to me, lacks sensitivity to this issue. Thus, it has resorted to threatening and intimidating those who tell the world of the situation on the ground.

Unfortunately, this won’t solve the food problem for millions of hungering, thirsty souls.

Local leaders, both elected and civil, and journalists have been accused of spreading ‘fake’ news about the hunger in Turkana.

The government has maintained that nobody has died of hunger, amidst sharply contrasting reports by locals and leaders from the area. In addition, the very government ahs added that the situation is even ‘better’ than previous years. In other words, the government is saying that it has performed better in handling the food crisis affecting the people of Turkana and elsewhere.

The Standard newspaper on Wednesday published pictures of dead livestock abandoned by owners. If the animals can die of hunger, what makes the government to think that humans, living in the same environment as the dead animals, cannot die of the same circumstances?

In holding on to this position, the government risks looking a ‘fool’ in the international arena, thanks to media reports, both local and international.

The very government which was refusing to buy maize from farmers because its stores were full, cannot provide food for its citizens, due o food and water shortage.

What a contrast! The very government goes on to fool Kenyans that it will construct tens of water dams before long rains, so that they can store water when the rains come pouring.

Already, the rains are predicted to start sooner than soon by the meteorological department.

One is, therefore, right to wonder if those dams will be constructed overnight or within which period.

The government should stop downplaying this issue of water and food disaster and show more serious commitment to helping its people.

It should acknowledge the situation and stop living in denial that its people are succumbing to hunger pangs, painfully and inhumanely.

Instead of trying to intimidate informers and sympathising Kenyans, including the good timely journalists, it should use the information given to reach out to the needy people and give them hope of another day.


Steve is a journalism student at the Technical University of Mombasa.

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