Kenya is experiencing the impact of the worst drought ever in 40 years, pushing many families to the brink of starvation. Our country has experienced three years of below-average rainfall. The situation was compounded by the desert locust invasion in northern Kenya in 2021 and the Covid-19 pandemic across the country. This has made the humanitarian needs to rapidly rise in the coastal region, northern, and eastern Kenya.
Climate change is causing an increase in the frequency and severity of adverse weather occurrences. There is dire need for cash transfers to enable families afford basic necessities. There is also need to provide water and to support agriculture and livestock in dioceses in the arid and semi-arid parts of Kenya namely Marsabit, Isiolo, Lodwar, Garissa, Lodwar, Kitui, Kilifi, Mombasa, Machakos, Malindi, Maralal, Ngong, parts of Nyahururu Diocese, parts of Kitale Diocese, parts of Nyeri Archdiocese, and parts of Nakuru Diocese.
According to the February Kenya Food Security Steering Group annual short rains assessment, 3.1 million people were food insecure. It is estimated that the number has increased to 3.5 million people, a huge increase since August 2021 when 2.1 million Kenyans were food insecure. Due to lack of water and forced migration, 1.5 million livestock have died.
Families are leaving their homes in search of food, water, and pasture. There is wide scale displacement of people, leading to increased conflict among communities over grazing lands and access to basic services in relocation areas. Inflation has increased causing economic hardship for families, rise in malnutrition and reduced enrolment in school.
The devastating effects of the drought and the consequent adverse effects on health, nutrition, education, and security seem to receive inadequate attention due to the heightened political activity ahead of the August general election.
There is a general sense of hopelessness and defeat among the affected communities. The impact is compromising the quality of life, stagnating economic growth and reversing gains made towards health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and peaceful co-existence.
While there have been rains in parts of Kenya in the last few weeks, the impact of the rains will not be felt soon, hence the need to collect and allocate resources to support drought-affected communities for six months.
The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched a drought appeal, urging Kenyans, in love and solidarity to contribute money and in-kind to support the communities affected by drought. The contributions will be distributed to drought affected families.
Please send your contributions to paybill number 560702. The account number should be your name and phone number. Cash or cheque deposits can be made at Kenya Commercial Bank account name KEC-Catholic Charity Emergency Fund account number 1106770862, Sarit Centre Branch.
God bless Kenya.
Rt. Rev. Kihara IMC is the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Marsabit