Turkana County government has cancelled a Sh20 million cultural event which was slated for later this month.
Announcing the move, the county governor Josphat Nanok linked the suspension to the drought which has affected many households in Turkana County.
“We have postponed the annual tourism and cultural festival that had been scheduled from April 25 to 27 ,” Nanok said.
Reports indicate that the governor was forced to suspend the event after pressure piled from local Members of County Assembly (MCAs) and residents over drought concerns.
In a motion sponsored by Turkwel MCA Stephen Edukon, the MCAs urged the county government to focus on feeding its people instead of directing the funds to a luxury event.
“It is shameful to allocate such funds to a three-day activity as thousands of residents are in dire need of relief food and water,” said Mr Edukon.
In a rejoinder the governor noted: “The Sh20 million that had been allocated to the event was channeled to drought responses,” Nanok said.
The one-week festival, popularly known as Tobong’u Lore (welcome back home) among the locals, is used to showcase the Turkana culture and promote cultural sites in the area.
Besides the cultural motives, the event normally held at Ekaales Center in Lodwar is said to be a great initiative in advocating for peace in the area.
The revelations come days after National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale slammed county governments of Turkana, Baringo, Wajir, Tana River, Garissa, Isiolo and Marsabit for doing little to mitigate the current drought situation.
According to him, the counties are among the highest recipient of national government funds annually but have little to show for the funds awarded.
He singled out Turkana county said to be leading with Sh11 billion annually.
“In as much as we want to blame the national government for allegedly doing little to mitigate ion the current drought, the county governments will also take the blame for not allocating enough funds to mitigate on the drought,” he said.
According to a Red Cross report, which was released recently, Turkana county is among the 13 counties worst hit by the ongoing drought situation.
Local media reports indicate that over 20 people have lost their lives due to hunger.
However, the government issued several statements saying there should be no cause for alarm as no Kenyan has lost their life.
A report by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) blames the rising cases of food insecurity to below-average 2018 short rains, livestock diseases, invasions by pests and intercommunal fights in areas of northern Kenya where pastoral farming is practiced.
“The below-average short rains have slightly increased the food insecure population from 655,800 in August 2018 to the current 1,111,500, with the top 12 counties having a total of 865,300 food-insecure people,” the report states.