More than 2.5 million Kenyans are facing starvation as drought and food security situation in the country continues to deteriorate, says National Drought Management Authority (NDMA).
The agency, in its latest report, has said that the number of people currently facing acute food shortage stands at 2.6 million people, an increase from the estimated 1.6 million people as at May 2019 during the mid-season assessment.
Those in need of relief assistance has more than doubled from 1.1 million in February 2019, the report shows, with a warning that the figures could rise to above three million people by October.
Populations in the arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) areas are either facing a food crisis or an emergency situation, the report said.
The most affected counties are Turkana, Mandera, Baringo, Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit and Tana River, whose residents are predominantly herders. Others are Kitui, Makueni, Kilifi and Meru North, which are in the marginal agricultural and agro-pastoral regions.
“This means that households in these counties have moderate to large food consumption gaps and above usual acute malnutrition as a result of the prevailing drought or are only marginally able to meet minimum food needs by depleting essential assets or employing crisis and emergency coping strategies,” reads the report.
NDMA also warned that the number of households in dire need of food has been rising steadily since August 2018 with the situation worsening in July this year.
The assessment, the Acute Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), was conducted between June 1 and 19, this year in 23 ASAL counties including Turkana, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Lamu, Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, Taita Taveta, Kitui and Makueni.
In addition to Embu (Mbeere), Nyeri (Kieni), Meru North, West Pokot, Baringo, Kajiado, Narok, Marsabit, Laikipia, Tharaka Nithi, Samburu and Isiolo.
“The analysis indicates that drought and food security situation has worsened across most parts of the country, especially in view of the poor performance of the previous season (October to December 2018),” the report states.
According to NDMA, the current situation has been caused by a below-average, delayed start and poor performance of the long rains season of between March and May, especially in pastoral and marginal agricultural areas.
The insufficient rains received in most ASAL counties during the season therefore led to low recharge of surface water sources such as water pans, shallow wells and dams with most sources holding less than 50 percent of their capacities.