Country headed for fifth failed rain season amid rising cases of hunger, malnutrition reported

Withered maize in a farm in Naivasha. [Courtesy]

The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) is projecting a fifth failed rain season.

With over 4 million people in need of relief food, the authority warned that the short rains had little impact with 20 of the 23 Arid and Semi-Arid Land (Asal) counties in critical condition.

This comes as several parts of the country continued to receive heavy rains. The Meteorological Department however has projected that this won’t last for long.

“The current short rain season has under-performed marked by late onset and poor distribution and precipitation amounts and this has raised a real possibility of a fifth failed season,” says the report.

According to East Africa Community, Asals and Regional Development CS Rebecca Miano, the number of people requiring humanitarian assistance stood at 4.35 million.

She added that the risks of acute malnutrition continued to be reported in the counties where 942,000 cases of children aged 6-59 months and 134,000 cases of pregnant and lactating women were acutely malnourished.

In a statement, the CS noted that only the County of Laikipia had slightly improved to the Alert phase, leaving 13 counties under the Alert drought phase.

The counties are Taita Taveta, Isiolo, Kilifi, Kwale, Samburu, Turkana, Wajir, Kitui, Kajiado, Mandera, Garissa, Tana River and Marsabit.

“Seven counties including; Narok, Tharaka Nithi, Makueni, Nyeri, Meru, and Laikipia are under Alert drought phase,” she said.

The CS further noted that the National and county governments had spent more than Sh16B on drought while development partners had together spent over Sh47B.

“The government has also launched an M-Pesa paybill for drought response where one can channel their contributions to the drought response kitty,” said the CS.

She added that the government will continue to monitor the performance of the short rains season to establish the extent that it was impacting livelihoods and the recovery rate.

Miano further noted that Kenya was among the Horn of Africa countries affected by severe drought that had left millions facing acute hunger and malnutrition.