Twelve counties in dire need of relief food as drought worsens

A decaying carcass of a camel at Dandu village in Mandera West Sub County [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Thousands of people are facing starvation due to the severe drought ravaging parts of the country.

The drought has also pushed hundreds of wildlife from their natural habitat into private farms in search of water and pasture.

Several counties have already appealed to the national government and other development partners for help.

In a report, the National Drought Management Authority said Nyeri, Laikipia, and Isiolo counties are facing starvation.

The authority cited Isiolo as the county with a severe vegetation deficit. Isiolo and Laikipia are among 12 counties that faced drought from June.

“The drought situation will worsen between July and November 2021, with negative consequences for household food security, crop and livestock production, access to water, the nutritional status of children,” the NDMA projected.

The report noted that reduced milk consumption due to a decrease in production has led to malnutrition in children.

“The county received below-average rainfall in March and April. Other factors include the human-wildlife conflict in Thegu area that has left farmers counting losses,” the report read in part.

The report has also cited blight in potatoes and beans and migration of livestock from Laikipia to Kieni in Nyeri as causes of food insecurity.

In Turkana, emaciated livestock, carcasses of animals, and dry water sources are what welcomes you to the county.

The State stopped supplying relief food and opted for a cash transfer programme which according to locals collapsed a while back.

By March, the Turkana County administration had reported that at least 600,000 residents were at risk of starvation.

“Kibish in Turkana North is the worst hit,” Turkana Deputy Governor Peter Lotethiro said then.

Infographics: The Standard Checkpoint

Teresa Akiru, a resident of Lokitaung, said it has not rained in her village since late last year, and her cattle are dying. She says only two goats are remaining, which she intends to slaughter to feed her family.

“There is no food. Government relief supplies have stopped. The elderly are dying and young children are malnourished,” Akiru said.

Turkana MPs led by Daniel Epuyo Nanok ( Turkana West ) described the drought situation as dire and called for an urgent supply of relief food.

His Loima counterpart Jeremiah Lomurukai said locals were staring at death. “Why is the state waiting for people to die to step in?” he posed.

NDMA county coordinator Abdulrizak Gilo said that an emergency meeting with stakeholders from the ministry of water, education, health, livestock, and agriculture discussed the effects of drought and starvation.

In Naivasha, Rubiri, and Mirera, the animals have strayed from Mt Longonot National park, Hellsgate, and ranches into locals’ farms.

As a result, the farmers are facing starvation after their produce was destroyed by the animals, which are also posing danger to pupils.

The farmers have issued a two-week ultimatum to Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to control the animals or they will take unspecified action.

Lucy Muthoni said the most common animals were buffaloes and zebras, which had left a trail of destruction in their farms.

At the Coast, Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) Coast region, so far, there are 375,976 persons facing starvation.

KRCS indicated that 90 per cent of water pans have dried up, while the remaining water pans can last only a month.

[Antony Gitonga, Ndungu Gachane, Stephen Rutto, Bakari Ang'ela and Philip Mwakio]