Nairobi — The drought situation has continued to worsen in 20 of the 23 Arid and Semi – Arid Lands (ASAL) counties due to moderate off – season rains, with three more counties sliding into the alarm phase of drought.
According to a report by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), the three counties of Laikipia, Tana River and Tharaka Nithi have joined Isiolo, Mandera, Garissa, Turkana, Wajir, Samburu and Marsabit County, bringing the number of counties in alarm phase to 10.
With the worsening drought trend, millions of people in the Horn of Africa are currently facing acute food insecurity and malnutrition.
In Kenya for instance, the number of people in need of urgent food assistance is projected to increase to an estimated 4.35 million between the months of October and December.
This aggravating household food security situation in the country has resulted in increased malnutrition in the arid and semi – arid (ASALs) counties, with 942,000 children below the age of five and 134,000 pregnant or lactating women requiring treatment for acute malnutrition. This is an increase from 884,464 children and 115,725 pregnant women reported last month.
The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) Chief Executive Officer Hared Hassan has noted that the forecast for the October – November short rains season indicates a below average performance and has further called for a concerted anticipatory action by key drought risk management players.
“The current pasture and browse condition is not expected to last long due to high concentration of livestock in the dry season grazing areas,” said Hassan.
He added that the government with support from United Nations (UN) Agencies and more than 70 non – state actors is scaling up targeted response interventions in critical sectors including water, livestock, agriculture, health and nutrition, education, security and social protection.
During the last financial year, the government disbursed Sh4 billion and Sh3.45 billion for Hunger Safety Net Program and emergency relief respectively. Another Sh950 million was spent on livestock offtake while Sh446 million was used on water response activities.
“Through support of the European Union, the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) is providing fuel subsidy for strategic boreholes in dry season grazing areas where thousands of livestock have migrated. This support is crucial and will ease the burden for livestock owners,” said the CEO.
“The NDMA is also providing spare parts for strategic boreholes due to frequent breakdown as most are running 24 hours a day to meet increased demand for water. “NDMA has also allocated more than 40,000 bags (50Kgs each) of specially formulated livestock feed supplements to 7 counties including Garissa, Marsabit, Isiolo, Wajir, Kajiado, Tana River and Mandera to cushion livelihoods of vulnerable communities,” Hassan added.
Currently, 10 counties including Embu, Garissa, Kitui, Makueni, Meru (North), Narok, Nyeri (Kieni), Taita Taveta, Kwale and Kilifi are in the Alert drought phase. The remaining ASAL counties – Baringo, West Pokot and Lamu – are in a normal drought phase.