Drought situation remains critical in 21 counties— authority

Number of people experiencing acute food insecurity projected to rise by one million in June

In Summary
  • Marsabit and Turkana counties remain in emergency drought phase.
  • Isiolo, Mandera, Kajiado, Samburu,Tana River, Wajir, Kilifi and Kitui are in alarm drought phase.
Carcasses of are disposed of in Namelok, Kajiado South subcounty.
Carcasses of are disposed of in Namelok, Kajiado South subcounty.
Image: FILE

Despite the reported rains in most parts of the country, the drought situation remains critical in 21 of the 23 ASAL counties during the month of March.

This is according to the National Drought Management Authority April drought early warning bulletin.  

The bulletin indicated that the number of people in need of assistance still stands at 4.4 million currently following short rains assessment.

But the latest data released by the Ministry of Health on Wednesday shows that the number of people experiencing acute food insecurity in Kenya is projected to rise by one million in the next two months.

This is from the current 4.4 million to 5.4 million in June 2023. The data further showed a likely record deterioration in the country’s food security situation and likely to deepen in the following months.

Dr Isaak Bashir, Head of Family Health at the ministry, said the main drivers of food insecurity revolve around consecutive below average rainfall seasons leading to low food production.

“High food and fuel prices, low purchasing power due poor terms, trade shocks such as conflicts and insecurity, are also some of the attributes in the people analysed,” he said during the opening of a two-day nutrition symposium in Nairobi.

NDMA early warning bulletin indicated that two counties namely Marsabit and Turkana remain in emergency drought phase.

Eight counties namely Isiolo, Mandera, Kajiado, Samburu, Tana River, Wajir, Kilifi and Kitui are in alarm drought phase, while 11 counties including; Baringo, Embu, Garissa, Lamu, Makueni, Laikipia, Narok, Nyeri, Meru, Kwale and Taita Taveta are in the alert drought phase.

“Acute malnutrition has also been noted across the counties with 970,214 children aged six to 59 months and 142,179 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers currently malnourished acutely in need of treatment,” the report showed.

The analysis of the March 2023 monthly rainfall performance indicated that several parts of the ASAL counties received moderate amounts of rainfall.

The reported rains in most of the arid counties are associated with flush floods which had negative impacts on the local livelihoods and critical facilities like roads.

The rainfall outlook for the month of April showed that most parts of the ASAL are forecasted to be under near average rainfall.

NDMA reported that flash floods were reported in Marsabit, Mandera, Garissa, Isiolo, Samburu, Narok, Taita Taveta and Wajir counties in March when the long rains started.

“Flooding in Marsabit affected 1,200 households and 2,000 livestock deaths in North Horr while 1,500 households and 800 livestock deaths were affected in Moyale subcounty (Golbo ward). Additional 200 households were affected in Laisamis and 150 affected in Saku. Floods in Garissa led to displacement of 80 households in Jilango and 28 in Barfin and cut off the road from Jilango to Modogashe,” the early warning bulletin read.

Additionally, River Tana water levels were reported to be fluctuating between 3.9 and 4.1 metres which depicts high probability of flooding risks as the rains continue.

NDMA stated the need for closer monitoring and sensitisation of communities along the river belt to move to safer grounds.

The authority recommended provision of food assistance and scaling up of cash transfers targeting households which are currently food insecure as a result of the prevailing drought and other shocks.


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