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Kenya needs Sh17b for relief food, says Gachagua as hunger worsens

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua with Ukrainian Ambassador to Kenya Andriy Pravednyk at Harambee House Annex. [DPPS]

Drought may get worse in the coming months as the number of those affected goes past five million people.

This means that more than 10 per cent of the population is affected.

Experts have warned that the number could rise to six million by January, owing to unreliable short rains normally experienced between September and December.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said the government has spent over Sh16 billion in its relief efforts, but a further Sh17 billion is needed between now and January.

“These funds will go to support livelihood projects, food security interventions as well as the sinking of new and rehabilitation of old water pans and dams around the country,” said Gachagua.

It had been expected that the long-awaited rains would lessen the impact of the drought but this has not been the case.

Data from UN agencies and Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority point to tough months ahead.

“The clouds have finally opened. Unfortunately, the short rains season is projected to underperform, occasioning a possible fifth failed season that will phase into the seasonal dry spell in January to March 2023,” Gachagua said on Monday.

Humanitarian partners estimate that there will be 6.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance next year in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands.

“At least 4.35 million people are going to bed hungry and about 5 million people cannot access enough water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning,” the United Nations estimates.

“Families are taking desperate measures to survive, including fleeing their homes in search of sustenance, and the risks faced by women and girls have risen sharply since the drought began. There are also growing reports of children dropping out of school and child marriage cases.”

The government is now working closely with local and international partners to cut funding deficits for drought response programmes.

“The government and humanitarian partners have stepped up our collective response to save lives and alleviate the suffering caused by this unprecedented drought, but we urgently need more funding to avert the worst-case scenario in 2023,” said UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya Stephen Jackson.

“Let us hold in our heads and hearts that each one of those 6.4 million who urgently need our help, is an individual with hopes and dreams,” said Dr Jackson

Data from the UN shows that 89 humanitarian partners reached nearly 1 million people with vital assistance between January and September, complementing government-led response to the drought.

This includes 763,000 people who were assisted to access safe drinking water, and received hygiene items. Aid agencies also reached 600,000 people with food assistance, including in-kind food, cash transfers, or livelihood support.

In addition, 293,000 children under the age of five and pregnant and lactating women received treatment for  malnutrition. Multi-purpose cash was delivered to 176,000 people, enabling them to make dignified choices and purchase what they most needed.