The essence of weather forecasting is always to facilitate early preparation for any adverse conditions that may come to pass.
The idea is to limit knee-jerk reactions that are in most cases ineffective and only prolong the suffering of those affected by it.
This is the reason we want to believe that the Environment ministry’s announcement on Monday of potential dry weather spell over East Africa went beyond the words into action.
The adverse conditions are associated with the La Nina phenomenon that is said to be developing over the Equatorial Pacific Ocean.
We hope this warning will be treated with the urgency it deserves to avoid past mistakes when lives have been lost and thousands of families subjected to immense suffering despite the early warnings.
There is an opportunity to turn a fresh leaf and ensure adequate planning should the drought come to pass.
Adequate stocks of key foodstuffs should be mobilised and stored in readiness for distribution in areas that are traditionally devastated by famine.
This is because Kenya has just come from a key harvest season in the main bread basket of the north Rift Valley and mobilising stocks to the national strategic grain reserve shouldn’t be much of a challenge.
The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCBP) and the Agriculture ministry should ensure there are sufficient reserves to cover for households, especially in the arid and semi-arid areas that are prone to dry weather.
The situation should, however, not be abused by cartels that have over the years thrived on drought conditions to make a kill through phony food imports.
It is the government’s duty to ensure locally available food stocks are exhausted before allowing any imports. This would not only tame rogue cartels, but also ensure fairness for thousands of local farmers who are keen on keeping their businesses afloat.