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More than 800,000 children under the age of five are malnourished

The number of people in need of assistance is projected to increase to 4.35 million by October if the short rains perform below average. [iStockphoto]

At least 884,464 children, aged between six months and four years 11 months, are acutely malnourished because of the drought ravaging parts of the country.

The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) in its August bulletin, posted on its website on Monday, reported that 115,725 pregnant and lactating women were also malnourished and in need of treatment.

The authority revealed that the number of children at risk of malnutrition in the counties of Baringo, Kajiado, Kitui, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Tharaka Nithi and Wajir is increasing.

“This is mostly attributed to the continued reduced milk consumption at a household level due to a decrease in milk production, as well as poor dietary diversity, poor child feeding practices, and reduced food intake at the household level,” read the bulletin in part.

The number of people in need of assistance is projected to increase to 4.35 million by October if the short rains perform below average.

NDMA said the drought is worsening in 20 of the 23 Asal counties and attributed it to poor rains.

Seven counties NDMA reported are in the alarm drought phase. These are Isiolo, Mandera, Samburu, Turkana, Wajir, Laikipia and Marsabit.

Thirteen counties; Embu, Garissa, Kajiado, Kitui, Makueni, Meru, Narok, Nyeri, Tharaka Nithi, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Kwale and Kilifi are in the alert drought phase. Three counties, Baringo, West Pokot and Lamu are in the normal drought phase.

In July, NDMA reported that the number of Kenyans in need of food aid had risen from 3.5 million in May to 4.1 million.

NDMA said there is need for provision of severe acute malnutrition ready-to-use therapeutic food. It also recommended the provision of food to subsidise school fees in boarding secondary schools.

NDMA recommended the scaling up of cash transfers targeting households that are currently food insecure as a result of the prevailing drought.