DROUGHT-HIT

Northern counties to remain parched as rains pound south

Scattered storms won't end the drought, that will continue destroying livelihoods

In Summary

•People are already receiving relief food but the ongoing drought is expected to kill more livestock.

•At least 2.1 million people, mostly in northern Kenya, are currently surviving on donated food.

Sheep carcasses in Marsabit bordering Lake Turkana.
CARASSES Sheep carcasses in Marsabit bordering Lake Turkana.
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

Drought-hit counties will remain dry as rains envelop the rest of the country this week.

Stella Aura, head of the meteorological department, said the rains will be heaviest in southern Kenya but will spread upwards by Monday next week.

“Isolated storms are expected over some parts of these regions,” Aura said.

However, Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Wajir, Mandera, Isiolo and Garissa counties, will remain dry.

People are already receiving relief food but the ongoing drought is expected to kill more livestock.

“Northeastern and northwestern Kenya are likely to be generally dry,” the Met director said in a statement.

At least 2.1 million people, mostly in northern Kenya, are currently surviving on donated food.

President Uhuru Kenyatta declared a state of natural disaster in 10counties on September 8.

The government last week secured Sh16.7 billion ($150 billion) credit from the World Bank to support drought response in the arid counties.

The funding will be supplemented by Sh2.2 billion ($21.4 billion) grant from the multi-donor trust fund of the Social Sustainability Initiative for All, led by the Danish and Swedish  governments.

This will provide a total of Sh19.1 million ($171.4) to Kenya.

The World Meteorological Organization says droughts are with the regio to stay and Kenyans should learn to live with them.

“Extreme events are the new norm,” WMO secretary general Petteri Taalas said in a statement on Monday. 

“There is mounting scientific evidence that some of these bear the footprint of human-induced climate change.”

His statement accompanied the provisional WMO State of the Global Climate 2021 report this week.

The report notes the La Niña, which is associated with drier-than-normal conditions in East Africa, led to consecutive below-average rainfall late last year and early this year, leading to the current drought.

“The 2021 first season harvest along central and southern areas of East Africa has been by prolonged droughts, mostly in Kenya where maize outputs have been officially estimated to be 42 to 70 per cent below average,” the report says.

However, despite the ongoing drought, maize prices remain stable.

As of Monday, a 90kg bag of maize was selling at an average of Sh2,600 to Sh2,700.

Kennedy Nyaga, chairman of the United Grain Millers Association, an umbrella group of small-scale millers, on Monday said they expect prices to remain stable until the end of the year.

“We have enough maize from the long rains harvest in the North Rift region. There is also maize coming into the country from Uganda and Tanzania,” he told the Star on phone.

He said the purchasing power has been increasing and small-scale millers who had closed up shop last year are reopening business.

Nyaga said the Covid-19 pandemic led to low purchasing power after the government imposed a lockdown.

“This affected millers who were forced to close their milling facilities due to low demand for unga. But,we are now recording tremendous growth in purchasing power of unga from the supermarkets,” he said.  

Edited by Kiilu Damaris