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January 18, 2019

Food shortage likely to continue in Isiolo and Tana River counties

The Liboi road leading to the Dadaab Refugee Camp on November 23, 2016 /JACK OWUOR
The Liboi road leading to the Dadaab Refugee Camp on November 23, 2016 /JACK OWUOR

Isiolo and Tana River counties are likely to continue experiencing acute malnutrition until May.

This comes about despite the short rains recorded from October to December. In a recently released nutrition update, households in the two counties are unable to meet their minimum dietary requirements and are at a crisis stage.

The counties recorded significant rainfall deficits and received only 30-50 per cent of average rainfall, compared to the counties in Western Kenya such as Kisii, which had above 90 per cent of average rainfall.

Isiolo and Tana River are among a number of counties that have not recovered fully from the aftermath of the previous drought.

The prospects for the coming months are uncertain, considering that the forecast in December indicated that most of the ASAL are generally likely to experience dry weather.

Currently, Isiolo, Garissa, Kajiado and Tana River are classified in the alarm phase. The other counties are in normal or alert phases, with the trend generally being either stable or improving.

The update by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network indicates, however, that food security is expected to gradually improve in the majority of pastoral areas in this month. Forage and water resources are also expected to improve.

“This is likely to lead to higher income from livestock sales, particularly of goats. Even with partial pasture regeneration, livestock body conditions will steadily improve and pastoralists will start to bring their livestock back to their homesteads,” the report said. 

The improvements will, however, be less significant and short-lived in parts of Garissa, Tana River, Wajir, Mandera and Isiolo, where rainfall and rangeland resource regeneration were below average.

Kenya continues to grapple with grim statistics occasioned by poor rainfall in many parts of the country.

Many citizens still contend with ravaging hunger whenever drought strikes. In some areas, the average distance covered to water points is long, complicating survival. This usually leads to migration of communities.

Many Tana River residents have been relying on relief food during the dry seasons. This happens because production indicators in crops and livestock deteriorate.

In some cases, they explode into a full-scale conflict, as people fight over scarce resources. With poor water sources, many livelihoods are lost. This, in some cases, leads to loss of lives.

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