In Summary

•The March-April-May season constitutes an important rainfall season in Kenya and more so over the Western, Rift Valley and Central regions.

•During this period, farmers are expected to prepare their land as the seasonal rainfall highly impacts on the agricultural sector and hence food security in the country.

Carcasses of animals in Liboi, Dadaab. Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO
Carcasses of animals in Liboi, Dadaab. Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

Kenya’s food security situation is worsening following the delay in long rains.

Already, 3.1 million Kenyans are facing food shortage due to the ongoing drought. Drought has plunged 23 counties into crisis.

The crisis compelled the government to declare the current the drought a national disaster before mobilising all agencies to respond to the drought.

Counties reeling from effects of drought include Kwale, Lamu, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Turkana, Samburu, West Pokot.

Other on the list include Baringo, Kajiado, Narok, Laikipia, Nyeri, Embu, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Makueni, Kitui, Marsabit, Isiolo, Wajir, Garissa and Mandera.

The forecast for the March-April-May 2022 long rains season by the Kenya Meteorological Department showed that enhanced rainfall was expected, with a 35 per cent probability, over the Highlands West of the Rift Valley, the Lake Victoria Basin, Central and South Rift Valley.

The Intergovernmental Authority for Development has raised concerns over the ongoing drought and is set to hold a media briefing on Monday where it will issue a statement on the drought and famine situation currently affecting the Horn of Africa.

The IGAD Executive secretary Dr Workneh Gebeyehu will issue the statement.

Reports show that the current drought being experienced has caused food insecurity while threatening the lives of 12 to 14 million people.

The forecast said rain was also expected in the North-West, the Highlands East of the Rift Valley (including Nairobi County) and the Southeastern lowlands.

The March-April-May season constitutes an important rainfall season in Kenya and more so over the Western, Rift Valley and Central regions.

During this period, farmers are expected to prepare their land as the seasonal rainfall highly impacts on the agricultural sector and  food security.

Met Director Stella Aura said near average rainfall was expected (with a 35 per cent probability) over the North-eastern and the Coastal regions.

“However, warmer than average Sea Surface Temperatures over the Indian and Atlantic Oceans have led to low pressure over the Southern hemisphere,” Aura said.

Aura said this, coupled with higher pressures over the Northern Hemisphere, has delayed the northward movement and proper establishment of the rain-bearing Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone.

She said the warming over the South Western Indian Ocean Basin was responsible for the formation of the intense tropical cyclones Batsirai and Gombe that hit Madagascar and Mozambique in early February and mid-March, respectively.

“Additionally, a key driver of convection over the Indian Ocean that is only predictable at shorter time scales, the Madden Julianne Oscillation , is currently not favourable for wet weather activities in the country and is expected to remain unfavourable during the first half of April,” she said.

Aura said despite the timely onset of rainfall over several parts of the country, the distribution for the remaining part of the season is likely to be poor especially in eastern.

“A dry spell is expected over most parts of the country during the first half of April as had been indicated in the April forecast. In May, the Western is likely to experience enhanced rainfall and near average rainfall is expected in Central and the Southeastern lowlands. Below average rainfall is expected in thr Coastal and the Northeastern regions,” she said.

Aura said during the remaining part of the season (April and May), near average rainfall with a slight tendency to above average rainfall is expected over the Highlands West of the Rift Valley, the Lake Victoria Basin, Central and South Rift Valley and the Northwestern regions.

“Near average rainfall is expected over the Highlands East of the Rift Valley including Nairobi, the South-eastern Lowlands and parts of the Northeast (Central and Western parts of Marsabit County),”she said.

In the financial year 2022-23, the government allocated Sh46.8 billion to food and nutrition security.

Out of this, Sh4.2 billion will go to the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusivity Project, Sh1.7 billion  for the Kenya Cereal Enhancement Programme, Sh1,9 billion has been proposed for the Emergency Locusts responses

Another Sh1.5 billion set for the National Value Chain Support Programme, Sh1.1 billion for the Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme, Sh1.5 billion for the Small scale Irrigation and Value Addition Project and Sh690 million for Food Security and Crop Diversification Project.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said the government will further set aside Sh2.7 billion for fertiliser subsidy to cushion farmers against the high cost for the planting season. 

This is in addition to the Sh3 billion allocated recently from the 2021-22 supplementary budget.

(Edited by Tabnacha O)

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