Number of Kenyans in need of food aid to drop by June

However, acute malnutrition among expectant mothers and children below five years still persists

In Summary

• Garissa, Kilifi, Laikipia, Makueni and Meru have recorded a worsening trend in malnutrition.

• Embu, Kajiado, Kwale, Kitui, Mandera, Nyeri, Narok, Tharaka-Nithi, Wajir and West Pokot have recorded considerable improvement. 

A delegation government in Turkana county on April 18, 2023
A delegation government in Turkana county on April 18, 2023
Image: FILE

The number of Kenyans in need of food aid is likely to drop by June East Africa Community CS Rebecca Miano has said.

Currently 4.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance but the figure is expected to drop drastically.

The East Africa Community Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Development CS Miano said despite pronounced recovery across the ASAL counties, the food security situation is yet to record satisfactory improvement.

“This is because there is often a time lag between recovery from drought and food availability at the household level. As a result, the number of people who needed assistance according to the short rains assessment (SRA) of 2022 with regard to the provision of food was 4.4 million,” she said.

“This figure is expected to drop drastically when the long rains assessment report is done by the end of June 2023.”

Miano said acute malnutrition among expectant mothers and children below the age of five years still persists.

She, however, noted that the number of children suffering from malnutrition has generally reduced.

“In 17 counties, malnutrition remains above average with five counties namely, Garissa, Kilifi, Laikipia, Makueni and Meru recording a worsening trend. Meanwhile, Embu, Kajiado, Kwale, Kitui, Mandera, Nyeri, Narok, Tharaka-Nithi, Wajir and West Pokot have recorded considerable improvement,” Miano said.

According to the latest report by the national drought early warning system, there was flash flooding across many parts of the ASALs.

Counties worst affected by flash floods include Marsabit, Garissa, Turkana, Tana River, Mandera and Wajir where there were displacements and destruction of critical facilities such as roads. This hindered movement and commercial activities.

The report indicated that the vegetation condition improved in April as compared to March courtesy of the ongoing rains.

“The current body condition of most livestock, in general, is fair despite being below normal in comparison to similar periods during years of normal rainfall. A number of livestock diseases have been reported in Garissa, Isiolo, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Baringo, Turkana, Kajiado, Kilifi, Meru North, Narok and West Pokot counties,” the national drought early warning system showed.

Crop production is ongoing but the price of maize remains above average across ASAL counties due to the depleted stocks, coupled with increased prices of food and essential commodities across the country.

The drought situation update shows that the March-April-May 2023 long rains season continues to perform well with the majority of the ASAL counties receiving favourable amounts of rainfall.

Arid counties of Mandera, Wajir, Isiolo, Tana River, Garissa, Turkana, Marsabit and Samburu received rainfall ranging between 101 mm to 225 mm. These are the regions that had been worst affected by drought.

The semi-arid counties of Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Kajiado, Meru, Makueni, Kitui, Kajiado, Laikipia, Narok, Baringo, Nyeri, West Pokot, Kwale, Kilifi, and Lamu received average rainfall in April with Lamu county recording the highest at more than 225 mm.

It further indicated that based on the range of indicators monitored, three counties Wajir, Taita Taveta and Lamu remain in alert drought phase while seven counties —Embu, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, West Pokot, Baringo, Garissa and Narok are in normal drought phase.

At least 13 counties including Isiolo, Kajiado, Kilifi, Kitui, Kwale, Laikipia, Makueni, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Turkana and Nyeri are in the recovery drought phase.

“It is worth noting that at the height of the drought in March, Marsabit and Turkana counties had reached the emergency drought phase. However, the ongoing rains have reversed that state of affairs,” the report reads.

The CS said ongoing interventions carried out by the government and the private sector-led National Steering Committee on Drought Response include cash transfers, screening and treatment of malnutrition cases.

“Meanwhile, rehabilitation and maintenance of water facilities, treatment and vaccination against emerging livestock diseases by county governments, and facilitation of safe migrations for pastoralists returning to their settlements are underway,” she said.

She urged Kenyans of goodwill to continue pooling resources to aid drought recovery efforts to cushion households even as the government up-scales measures to foster community resilience to drought and other climate shocks.

“My ministry, through the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), is closely monitoring the drought situation and the performance of the current long rains to ascertain its impact on food security. This will inform short and long-term planning,” Miano said.


(Edited by Tabnacha O)

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