• Government predicts widespread crop failure, increased water scarcity, malnutrition and disease outbreaks
• IGAD estimates about 10 million people in the Horn of Africa face famine
The ongoing drought remains serious in 13 counties, with 1.1 million people in need of food aid, the government has said.
The affected counties are Turkana, Mandera, Marsabit, Garissa, Baringo, Kilifi, Tana River, West Pokot, Isiolo, Wajir, Samburu, Kwale and Makueni.
Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa said the situation may not improve even with the expected long rains as the weatherman has predicted.
Wamalwa said this position has been confirmed by IGAD Food Security and Nutrition Working Group which estimates that about 10 million people in the Horn of Africa face famine.
“There will be widespread crop failure and an increase in water scarcity, malnutrition cases, disease outbreaks as well as inadequate pasture. There will also be loss of livestock and livelihoods and people needing relief will rise,” he said.
He said the drought is not expected to be worse than that of 2017 when 15 million people in the Horn of Africa and 3.6 in Kenya million were affected.
The government has so far provided Sh1.85 billion for drought mitigation. Sh602 million has been released to the Ministry of Devolution for relief food. Some 26, 200 bags of maize have been distributed so far, 15, 420 bags of rice and 17, 060 bags of beans.
The Ministry of Agriculture has received Sh600 million for water pans and household water storage, while the Water ministry has received Sh680 million for water trucking and rehabilitation of boreholes.
The CS said Sh1.07 billion has been paid out to 96, 689 households in Wajir, Turkana, Mandera and Marsabit counties.
Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri said the country has enough maize to last until July.
But millers have expressed concern that there is not enough maize.
Peter Kuguru, chairman of the United Grain Millers Association, said there is a looming shortage of maize in the market.
He said this has led to a price increase to Sh3, 000 per 90kg bag in Nairobi and between Sh2, 800 to Sh2, 700 in Kitale up from Sh2, 500 which the government was buying at in February.
“Largescale farmers are hoarding about two million bags of maize. The situation of maize supply to the consumer market from Kenyan farmers is now heading to a crisis. Unless the ministry intervenes immediately, there is likelihood of a serious maize and consumer food crisis,” said Kuguru.
The chairman said if he situation continues in the coming two to three weeks, the price of maize may increase to Sh3, 600 and a 2kg packet of unga will rise to more than Sh120.
Maize flour is currently selling between Sh90 to Sh100.
Timothy Njagi from Tegemeo Institute said the current maize stocks will last the country up to mid-June.
“The current weather situation doesn’t look good in terms of maize production in the country which may be low next year,” Njagi said.