Drought has left more than a million people on the brink of starvation in northern kenya
Communities of herders are competing for water and pasture in many of the affected areas.
Months of rain have just ended but weather experts say it was not enough to prevent worsening food and water shortages.
On 10 February the Government declared a national drought emergency, with 23 of 47 counties affected. The number of food insecure people more than doubled – from 1.3 million to 2.7 million. Some 357,285 children and pregnant and lactating mothers are acutely malnourished. The latest nutrition surveys showed that three sub-counties (Turkana North, North Hor (Marsabit), Mandera) had GAM rates above 30 per cent. Six sub-counties (Turkana Central, Turkana South, Turkana West, Laisamis, East Pokot (Baringo), Isiolo) had GAM rates between 15 and 29 per cent.
Maize production in the coastal areas decreased by 99 per cent compared to the long term average. People have to travel further to access water, for example in Baringo, household walk three times longer than normal. Pastoralist communities in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) counties are losing their livestock – with reports of large numbers of animal deaths in Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu and Mandera counties. Data collected by UNICEF from 10 affected counties indicated that close to 175,000 children were not attending early pre-primary and primary schools, primarily due to the drought’s impact.
More than 2.6 million Kenyans were severely food insecure as of 26 May 2017 — and this number was rapidly rising. High levels of malnutrition are prevalent across the arid and semi-arid lands. Three sub-counties report Global Acute Malnutrition rates of 30 per cent, double the emergency threshold. Severe drought has dried up water resources in half of Kenya’s 47 counties and an estimated 3 million people lack access to clean water. Recurrent droughts have destroyed livelihoods, triggered local conflicts over scare resources and eroded the ability of communities to cope. Families are on the move, which poses protection risks for women and children. More than 1.2 million children are in need of education assistance. Kenya is experiencing multiple disease outbreaks including cholera/Acute Watery Diarrhea and measles. An estimated 2.9 million people require lifesaving medical interventions and community-based primary health outreach
The National Drought Management Authority’s (NDMA) early warning bulletin for June indicates that while the long rains have ended, many parts of the Arid and Semi-arid Lands (ASALs) are still experiencing long distances between home and water sources, unusually high food prices, and worrying levels of malnutrition. Being the third consecutive below-average rainfall season, the modest recovery conditions in some parts of ASALs are likely to be short-lived. Therefore, the upcoming dry season (June to September) will be a difficult one for the ASALs in terms of malnutrition and access to water and food, particularly for pastoral communities. Insecurity linked to resource-based conflicts has worsened, while Fall Armyworm and African Armyworm infestations continue to threaten crops in marginal agricultural counties, further worsening the prospects for the next harvest.