Expert faults Met for late warning to farmers

Wants the current drought situation declared a national disaster

In Summary

•The expert says with an early warning, farmers would have found alternative crops to plant

•NDMA report says situation is worse in 20 counties 

A boy carries water in Ukambani
A boy carries water in Ukambani
Image: FILE

The Meteorological department should have warned farmers in January to give them ample time to prepare accordingly, an agriculture expert has said.

The expert, who did not want to be named, said the department should have come out early as they claim to have sophisticated equipment to monitor the weather.

“Telling farmers at the end of April that there is no rain does not help much. They should have been informed in January so they know what to do and the alternative crops to grow that do not require a lot of rain. Planting maize now is a done deal,” he said.

He said the drought should be declared a national disaster.

This month's report on the status of drought and hunger by the National Drought Management Authority warns of tough times ahead. 

The situation may get out of hand following the latest weather forecast by the weatherman which shows that Kenyans will have a hot and dry Easter holiday as rainfall is only expected over few parts of the Central and Western Kenya. 

The report, released on Wednesday, showed that the situation is getting worse in 20 counties.

They include Kitui, West Pokot, Baringo, Isiolo, Tana River, Laikipia, Samburu, Kilifi, parts of Embu and Nyeri, and Lamu. Others are Makueni, Taita Taveta, Kajiado, Kwale, Narok, Wajir, Turkana, Garissa and Mandera.

“More counties have moved into the drought alarm stage, from one in February to five in March, 20 counties are now reporting a worsening trend and three counties currently recording a stable trend,” the report said.

Those in the alarm stage include Wajir, Mandera, Garissa, Marsabit and Turkana, while the rest of the ASAL counties are at alert, except Meru, Narok and Kwale which are at the normal stage.

The authority said livestock-keeping communities have failed to find the market of their animals following their poor conditions.“Children are facing serious attribution in Kajiado, Lamu, Baringo, Makueni, Samburu, West Pokot, Narok, Wajir, Mandera, Kitui and Meru. 

The situation is worse in Isiolo, Turkana, Garissa, Wajir, Marsabit, Narok, West, Pokot, Meru, Kilifi, Kitui, Taita, Taveta, Laikipia, Kajiado, Tharaka, Baringo and Embu,” the report read.

“The largest upward movements were in Kajiado, Tana River and Kilifi by 19 per cent, 17 per cent and 16 per cent respectively.” 

The report further stated that the average distances to water for both households and livestock increased in March in more counties. In most ASAL areas, reduced availability of pasture and water resulted in rapid deterioration in livestock body condition and decreased milk production.

Rural Initiatives Development Programme coordinator Nicholas Kinoti said the weather reports should be a concern to all sectors.

“This is not just because of impending food shortage but the multiplier effect food has. Food is food, food is money, food is nutrition, food is peace and so many things. The effects of climate change are dire, there is also a huge opportunity for mitigating if there are well-coordinated efforts by all sectors,” he said. 

(Edited by R.Wamochie)