TOUGH TIMES AHEAD

Expert faults Met for late warning to farmers on delayed rains

Agriculture specialist says said early warning would have given farmers ample time to prepare and look for alternative crops, which do not need much rain

In Summary

• A little too late for farmers to think of alternative crops

• The latest forecast shows there will be little rain, which will be poorly distributed across the country

  

A dry dam in Laikipia North
DRY SPELL: A dry dam in Laikipia North
Image: /FILE

An agriculture specialist has criticised the Metereological department for making late announcements to farmers on lack of rains.

The expert, who did not want to be named, said the department has "sophisticated equipment" to monitor the weather and should have made the announcement in January, not in April.

He said early warning would have given farmers ample time to prepare and look for alternative crops, which do not need much rain.

 

“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. Planting maize now is a done deal,” he said.

He wants the current drought declared a national disaster.

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

The situation may get out of hand following the latest weather forecast by the weatherman. It shows there will be little rain, which will be poorly distributed across the country. It is going to be a hot and dry Easter holiday as rainfall is only expected in a few parts of the Central and Western regions.

The report released on Wednesday revealed the situation is getting worse in 21 counties. They include Kitui, West Pokot, Baringo, Isiolo, Tana River, Laikipia, Samburu, Kilifi, Embu, Lamu and Nyeri. Others are Makueni, Taita Taveta, Kajiado, Kwale, Narok, Wajir, Turkana, Garissa and Mandera.

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

Those in the alarm stage are Wajir, Mandera, Garissa, Marsabit and Turkana. The rest of the Asal areas are at the alert stage, except Meru North, Narok and Kwale, which are at the normal stage.

 

The authority said livestock keeping communities have failed to find a market for their animals following their poor conditions.

Overall, the current body condition of most livestock is below normal compared to similar periods in a normal year.

“Counties where livestock body condition shows signs of worsening include Wajir, Kajiado, Marsabit, Baringo, Garissa, Laikipia, Mandera, Samburu, Turkana and West Pokot,” the report said.

“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 shows the average distances to water for households and livestock increased in March in more counties.

In most Asal areas, reduced availability of pasture and water resulted in rapid emaciation of livestock and decreased milk production.

RIDEP-Kenya programme coordinator Nicholas Kinoti said the weather reports should be a concern for 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,” he said.

“The effects of climate change are dire, there is also a huge opportunity for mitigating if there is well-coordinated efforts by all sectors.”