Experts have warned that the drought situation in Kenya could turn into an emergency should the country fail to receive enough rain in the next few weeks.
The situation, they say, has been exacerbated by desert locusts invasion and the Covid-19 pandemic.
An assessment by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) shows Kenya faces a crisis should the short rains between October and December fail.
“If we do not receive rains from October, the drought might evolve into an emergency,” said James Oduor, the NDMA Chief Executive Officer.
He said the situation is as a result of failed short rains in October last year and long rains in March this year.
“The impact of the drought is because of two cumulative seasons without rain. The long rains were not enough to stabilise the situation,” he added.
Some of the drought indicators Oduor cited include lack of access to water, poor quality of pasture, high maize process, low milk production and malnutrition of children.
Hamisi Williams, FAO Programmes Coordinator, said the agency had initiated responses to mitigate the situation. These responses include sustaining markets for animals, provision of animal feeds and water.
The 10 counties on drought alert are Garissa, Isiolo, Kilifi, Kitui, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Turkana, and Wajir.
Other counties at risk of severe drought include Baringo, Kajiado, Kwale, Laikipia, Lamu, Makueni, Meru, Taita Taveta, Tharaka Nithi and West Pokot.
Embu, Narok and Nyeri are facing a low risk of severe drought, according to the government, which in conjunction with FAO, is seeking Sh8.7 billion for intervention activities such as food and safety nets, health and nutrition, provision of water, improvement of agriculture, peace and security, and drought coordination.
Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said the government had set aside Sh2 billion that will be utilised on response activities.
The CS said a multi-agency team had been set up to address the situation.