•Communities worst hit by the drought are likely to live with the health impact more than two years to come
•The drought has left thousands of children affected with acute malnutrition with those in the counties of Turkana, Samburu and Isiolo adversely affected
The World Health Organization has warned of long-lasting consequences of drought to communities.
The WHO Kenya country representative Dr Abdourahmane Diallo has warned that the communities worst hit by the drought are likely to live with the health impact for more than two years to come.
“We are not just looking at one or two years of drought but of the health of those communities in the coming decades,” Diallo said.
The drought has left thousands of children affected with acute malnutrition with those in the counties of Turkana, Samburu and Isiolo adversely affected.
Acute malnutrition takes place when the body doesn’t receive the nutritional support it requires, a condition to which it adapts by reducing physical activity and slowing the processes involved in proper organ function and cell and tissue maintenance.
According to the official, malnutrition is a major threat to children’s lives and even to their long-term health and development.
“Malnutrition causes stunted growth, which in turn affects a child’s brain development and might have serious consequences throughout their lives,” he said.
“Malnutrition and diseases also have a synergetic relationship where hungry children become sick more easily and sick children become more easily malnourished."
Kenya is currently in the throngs of an unprecedented drought, particularly in the ASAL counties following five consecutive seasons of poor rains.
On Monday, the Ministry of Health flagged Turkana North, Turkana South and Lisaimis as having been worst hit with more than 30 per cent of children aged 6 to 59 months acutely malnourished.
According to the PS State Department of Public Health Josephine Mburu, 884,464 children aged 6-59 months and 115,725 pregnant or lactating women in the country require treatment for acute malnutrition.
Statistics show that nearly 1.13 million children under the age of five years were stunted; 315,066 were wasted while 630,132 were underweight in 2022.
According to Mburu, counties in Arid and Semi-Arid areas are disproportionately affected by high levels of acute malnutrition often as a result of cyclical droughts that affect food security and the livelihoods of the communities.