The number of food insecure Kenyans is expected to reach 4.35 million by October, up from the current 4.1 million, as drought worsens in many parts of the country, a state agency said Sunday.
According to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), 23 counties mainly in the arid and semi-arid regions are grappling with a severe dry spell that has worsened water stress, hunger, and malnutrition.
The deteriorating food situation is attributed to the fourth consecutive failed rainy season alongside the impact of the Ukraine crisis, desert locust infestation, and COVID-19 pandemic, NDMA said in a statement issued in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.
Hared Hassan Adan, the Chief Executive Officer of NDMA, said that in August alone, 95 percent of arid and semi-arid lands will be severely dry, exposing herders and subsistence farmers to ravages of hunger and malnutrition.
Livestock mortalities have increased in a huge swathe of Kenya’s dry northern frontier region due to lack of pasture and water, said Hassan adding that the coastal strip has not been spared ravages of drought.
According to NDMA, 884,464 children aged six to 59 months are acutely malnourished while 115,725 pregnant or lactating mothers have also suffered from an acute form of malnutrition in the arid counties.
Declining milk production and a spike in the cost of cereals have also worsened the hunger crisis in the semi-arid region and the projected insufficient October-December short rains might not offer a respite.
To mitigate against the severe impacts of drought in the arid outposts, the government has embarked on livestock offtake, water tracking, provision of livestock feeds, supplementary diet to families, and cash transfer, said Hassan.
He added that the government with support from multilateral agencies and local charity groups has contributed an estimated 10 billion shillings (83.50 million U.S. dollars) to boost drought response in the affected counties.