Acute famine has put 4.3m Kenyans at risk, State says

Thursday, August 4th, 2022 11:00 | By
Public Service CS Margeret Kobia (centre) flanked by WFP Representative Stephen Jackson (left) and PS for ASAL Michael Powen at a presser in Nairobi, yesterday. PD/Njenga Kungu

About 4.3 million Kenyans face starvation by December should the current drought situation continue, the government has warned.

It marks an increase from 3.8 million people, who by March had been hit by drought due to lack of adequate rainfall in various parts of the country.

Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programmes Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia warned that the current drought situation could degenerate to alarming levels if urgent measures are not taken.

She said the country requires Sh15 billion to address the effects of food insecurity. “The weather outlook indicates that there will be generally depressed rainfall across all the Arid and Semi-Arid counties during the October-December rainfall season due to La Nina hence the prospect of a fifth failed rain season,” she said.

Speaking while chairing a consultative meeting between the government and development partners in Nairobi yesterday, Kobia regretted that 23 counties are the most affected with the remaining 24 also facing the starvation threat.

She, however, said as part of the government’s interventions to address the drought menace, they have so far bought livestock from pastoralists as well as introduced drought resilience programmes among local communities.

 Some of the interventions include cash transfer strategy, making water accessible through new and existing projects and provision of animal feeds and farm inputs.

United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kenya Stephen Jackson appealed to the global community to increase their support to address the current situation, which could worsen. “I must say that quite a lot has been done but the reality on the ground is that the crisis is literally getting out of hand and we are overwhelmed while still looking for a lasting solution,” he said.

Cash transfers

Since September 2021, the government has disbursed over Sh2.11 billion in cash transfers under Hunger Support National Programme and a further Sh8.58 billion targeting the elderly, orphans and vulnerable children and the disabled.

Government has stepped up drought response effort across the 23 counties spending over Sh4.9 billion in food aid; commercial livestock off takes and water response activities. A further Sh1.1 billion has been disbursed as Emergency while 170,940 has been the Relief Cash Transfer to 170,940 vulnerable households.

As part of the continued support, Kobia also launched Lisha Jamii, an initiative established by the World Food Programme that will provide food assistance to 89,000 families across 12 counties that are facing acute food insecurity.

Food assistance will be provided for six months through both cash transfers and in- kind with beneficiary families set to receive Sh6,500 monthly.

Elsewhere, pastoralists in Isiolo have been advised to reduce their herds to avoid loss in the prevailing drought, which is threatening to wipe out their livestock.

National Drought Management Authority  County Coordinator Lordman Lekalkuli said destocking animals in the dry spell would ease pressure on the already strained natural resources.

 “If  livestock owners sell the animals early this month they will be lucky to get better prices instead of waiting to reduce stocks later when the animals will be weak while some die from severe drought,” he said.

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