Government is to roll out a new drought relief scheme at the beginning of June after the previous relief programme officially ended on March 31.
The old programme, however, remains in force with food stock assistance and financial aid to bridge the gap between the just-ended programme and the start of the new proramme.
Confirming the launch of the new food aid regime on or after May 31, the spokesperson at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Saima Shaanika, yesterday said the new regime would be announced towards the end of May or by the start of June.
This comes after thorough research and a door-to-door interview programme was conducted. “People in all regions were interviewed by fieldworkers of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the OPM to assess the actual need of the people during the severe drought,” she told New Era.
“These interviews will be compiled and presented to the OPM’s Emergency and Disaster Management Unit and then action will be taken accordingly.”
She says it should not be called “a new regime” as the old programme actually never really stopped, but was merely toned down after drought aid food was delivered to those most in need.
The expected announcement will come at a time when household food security continues to weaken in various regions, as most households are reported to have depleted last season’s harvest and are now utterly dependent on the market and the government’s drought relief food programme for access to nutrition.
According to the latest Crop Prospects and Drought Situation Report, the supply of drought relief food is inadequate compared to the number of food-insecure people in the north-central and northeast regions.
Households noted that the drought relief food distribution often takes too long to come to households’ rescue and only targets certain households regarded as most vulnerable.
The affected people are, therefore, requesting government to improve the supply of drought relief food, to ensure the timely delivery of the food and to cover all households affected by the drought.
The offices of the regional councils in the regions have confirmed that the supplies of drought relief food items received in the regions are insufficient compared to the number of people that are food-insecure.
This is said to have put the regional councils in a difficult situation regarding the distribution of the food items, as per the guidelines provided by the Office of the Prime Minister.
The government drought relief food programme started in April 2015 and ran through to the end of March 2016. Many farmers reported that due to the drought conditions, which are seemingly continuing unabated since the previous season, there would be no significant improvement in household food security this season.