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Mt Kenya joins regions that need food aid over drought

Residents waiting for relief food at Kiawara DC's office in Kieni, Nyeri. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Mt Kenya becomes the second region after the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) to be put on high alert as areas that require humanitarian assistance following the severe drought.

Kiambu, Kirinyaga, and Murang’a counties have joined Laikipia, Tharaka Nithi, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, and Nyeri as areas that have been facing severe drought since the year began and require food, water and treatment of both livestock and people.

The National Drought Management Authority's November report blamed the drought on four consecutive failed rain seasons as well as the late onset and poorly distributed 2022 short rains season.

"These pockets are in Elgeyo Marakwet, Machakos, Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Siaya, Homa Bay, Nakuru, and Migori counties," the report said.

Acute malnutrition was noted across the counties, with 942,000 cases of children aged six to 59 months acutely malnourished and 134,000 cases of pregnant or lactating women acutely malnourished and in need of treatment.

Laikipia, Marsabit, Garissa, Isiolo, Kilifi, Kwale, Samburu, Tana River, Tharaka Nithi, Turkana, Wajir, Kitui, Kajiado, and Mandera counties are also under alarm.

Embu, Narok, Taita Taveta, Makueni, Meru, Nyeri, and Lamu are under alert, but with the poor rains, are likely to join the alert zone.

"Consequently, 65 per cent of counties reported poor livestock body condition for cattle, while 56 per cent of counties reported poor livestock body condition for goats," the report said.

Further, the report said the number of counties in the alarm phase of drought had increased from 10 to 14.

With the deterioration of the drought, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance currently stands at 4.35 million in the ASALs based on the 2022 Long Rains Food and Nutritional Security Assessment Report. 

Kenya is among the Horn of Africa countries affected by the current severe drought in the region that has left millions across the region facing acute food insecurity and malnutrition.