Parched: 60 per cent rivers, streams dry up as drought ravages region

Water bodies in the 32 counties have dried up, children drink from cattle dips.

In Summary

• The government has declared the drought a national disaster.

•  US government has donated Sh16 billion tobuying relief food.

A boy drinks from a cattle dip water from a cattle dip in Moyale in Marsabit county where drought has devastated pastoralist’s community.
THIRST: A boy drinks from a cattle dip water from a cattle dip in Moyale in Marsabit county where drought has devastated pastoralist’s community.

The National Drought Management Authority has said 60 per cent of rivers, steams and water bodies in 32 counties have dried up.

According to the authority data, more than 60 per cent of the water bodies in the affected counties are dry while river flow stood at 40 per cent with the levels dropping daily.

This came as the Ministry of ASALs and Regional Development announced a joint venture with donors to support affected communities with water and livestock feed.

According to drought management authority data, more than six million people in 32 counties are facing an acute food shortage or malnutrition.

The report said that the numbers included 4.4m people in ASAL counties, 0.9m in non-ASAL counties, 970,000 children under the age of five and 142,000 pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.

“Our assessment indicates that more than 60 per cent of open water sources have dried up while river flows are below 40 per cent of normal in 32 counties,” the authority said.

And with water bodies drying up, this as  led to frequent breakdown of boreholes due to increased demand, the authority reported.

“Complementary interventions are underway in different government ministries and departments, even as the government works towards building long-term resilience,”the ASAL Ministry reported.

The authority further noted that it had supported water trucking, provision of water tanks, provision of fuel subsidy to strategic boreholes and repair and rehabilitation of water facilities.

“Marsabit, Isiolo, Kajiado, Garissa, Laikipia, Wajir and West Pokot counties will benefit from this water programme at a cost of Sh36.6 million," it said.

Earlier, CS Rebecca Miani said that the Government had released an additional Sh2 billion to secure relief food and distribution for affected counties.

She added that NDMA would provide livestock feed supplements and implement water-related interventions with funding from the National Drought Emergency Fund (NDEF) and the European Union.

“The effects of below-average rainfall seasons have led to depletion of pasture and browse in most ASAL counties, which has resulted in poor body condition of livestock and widespread mortality,” she said.

Miano added that the Ministry was in the process of dispatching 60,480 bags (50kg) of livestock feed supplements worth Sh145m to eight ASAL counties.

“We have already dispatched feed to Kitui, Makueni, Kajiado, Marsabit and Isiolo, and finalising logistics for dispatch to Mandera, Wajir and Nyeri counties,” Miano said.

The CS said that the current interventions were aimed at complementing actions by other partners to avert more livestock deaths.

“The drought pellets distributed by the NDMA are specially formulated and a 50kg bag feeds a cow for 25 days and a goat for 100 days,” she said.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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