Kenya says 6 mln people food insecure amid prolonged dry spell-Xinhua

Kenya says 6 mln people food insecure amid prolonged dry spell

Source: Xinhua| 2023-02-17 01:13:00|Editor: huaxia

NAIROBI, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- Six million people in 32 Kenyan counties are currently food insecure as drought escalates in the country, said the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) in its latest update released in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, Thursday.

The assessment conducted from Jan. 11 to Feb. 10 said that prolonged drought has worsened the hunger crisis in Kenya's arid counties, threatening stability and cohesion. Linked to the fifth consecutive failed rain season, impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, high cost of farm input and fall armyworm infestation, the grim food and water security situation in Kenya is expected to prolong until the onset of the March-May long rain season, NDMA warned.

"The situation could worsen further in the next three months as drought persists, thus continued multi-sector response to mitigate deterioration of the prevailing situation remains a priority," the NDMA said. According to the agency, more than 970,000 children aged six to 59 months, and 142,000 pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are currently malnourished and in urgent need of life-saving treatment.

Production of key staples like maize, beans, peas, green grams and millet fell below average in Kenya's arid northern frontier region during the October-December short rain season, only to escalate household food insecurity, the NDMA said.

Depleted pasture and water sources have also worsened hunger and income loss among nomadic communities who inhabit the country's arid lands.

An estimated 2.6 million livestock deaths have been reported in the arid and semi-arid counties, translating into a loss of about 1.8 billion U.S. dollars, the NDMA said. Resource-based conflicts have been reported in the counties affected by drought while other security challenges like banditry have also spiked, reversing previous gains made to pacify the volatile dry outposts.

Closure of schools due to lack of food and water has disrupted learning in the drought-affected counties, leading to an increase in early marriages and pregnancies among girls, child labor and forced migration of civilians, noted NDMA.

To avert a humanitarian crisis, the agency proposed scaling up emergency food aid for populations affected by drought, cash transfers, supply of clean drinking water and medicine, resumption of school feeding programs and provision of feed supplements for livestock.