Kenyans facing starvation rise to 3.5 million


Asokon Lomulin inside her hut at Kamekwi village in Turkana during a prolonged drought in 2019. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA

The number of Kenyans in need of food aid has risen by nearly half a million as the country battles the effects of a drought that started last October.

The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) says the number of Kenyans in need of humanitarian assistance has jumped from 3.1 million last month to 3.5 million in the review period.

The agency says eight counties of Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, Samburu, Isiolo, Baringo, Turkana and Laikipia are at a critical alarm drought phase and they need help urgently.

“The drought situation continues to bite in 17 of the 23 arid and semi-arid lands counties. This is attributed to the poor performance of the 2021 short rains coupled with previous two failed consecutive seasons and late-onset of the 2022 long rains season,” said NDMA in a statement.

The drought comes at a time when Kenyans are grappling with high cost of living that has seen the price of nearly all basic goods skyrocket, piling pressure on inflation which hit a seven-month high of 6.47 last month.

Kenya depleted emergency stocks in the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) nearly four years ago with the government announcing that it will no longer buy stocks for relief but would instead embrace cash transfers to the affected households.

The agency says the current pasture condition is below normal as compared to a good year with no improvement recorded in comparison with the previous month due to depressed rainfall.

The NDMA says the current livestock body condition has worsened compared to last month.

“Generally, the current body condition of most livestock is below normal in comparison to similar periods during a normal year,” the agency said.

NDMA has urged the government to move with speed in the provision of relief food and scaling up of cash transfers targeting households, which are currently food insecure as a result of the prevailing drought stress.

The agency has also recommended the provision of water trucks to the affected families, rehabilitation and maintenance of water facilities, provision of fuel subsidies to motorised boreholes and procurement and distribution of water storage tanks.

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