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Gloomy weather forecast signals deeper food crisis

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The weatherman has warned that the long-rain season will not start until later this month or early April, pointing to a worsening of the current famine in drought-stricken parts of the country. GRAPHIC | GENNEVIEVE AWINO

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Summary

  • The Kenya Meteorological Department has forecast late arrival and poor distribution of the March-April-May long rains.
  • Delays in the onset of the long rain season will affect food security, fodder development and result in low water levels

The weatherman has warned that the long-rain season will not start until later this month or early April, pointing to a worsening of the current famine in drought-stricken parts of the country.

The Kenya Meteorological Department Tuesday forecasted late arrival and poor distribution of the March-April-May long rains, warning that the situation will get worse in 12 northern Kenya counties that are currently at the drought-alert stage.

Stella Arua, director of meteorological services, said the delays in the onset of the long rain season will affect food security, fodder development and result in low water levels — impacting negatively on the livestock and hydro-power generation.

“The expected late onset and poor distribution of the March-April-May rains are likely to impact negatively on the agriculture sector, leading to food insecurity,” said Ms Arua.

“In the north western Kenya and other Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) where poor rainfall performance is forecast, problems related to water scarcity and lack of pasture for livestock is expected,” she said.

The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) said Mandera, West Pokot, Kilifi, Laikipia, Nyeri, Garissa, Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Isiolo, Kitui and Wajir are in the grip of drought and need quick intervention.

Poor distribution

The weatherman says rains in the North Rift region are expected to start in the first week of April, with poor distribution expected to affect the development of maize. The region normally starts planting in March.

The gloomy weather forecast comes at a time when deaths linked to famine have been reported in ASALs counties even as the government insists that there is enough food in the country.

hungry

Eipa Ekiru munches on food at Morulem in Turkana East, Turkana County, on March 18, 2019. Residents are facing starvation due to a prolonged drought. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

Deputy President William Ruto Monday said there are 46 million bags of maize in the country and that the State will distribute grain to the affected regions.

“Government has made available Sh2 billion to manage and mitigate drought that has affected 865,000 people in 13 counties. Funds will ensure adequate distribution of food and life-saving aid to needy populations,” said Mr Ruto.

The government Monday released Sh2 billion to be distributed to the special groups comprising the elderly and disabled.

According to the Food and Nutrition Security Assessment, different agencies like the National Cereals and Produce Board, relief organisations and farmers had a total of 30 million bags at the end of January.

The stocks are enough to last the country for 10 months given that Kenyans consume a total of three million bags a month.