Food crisis looms large in the country as dry season sets

Chebo Chebunyo fetching water while dogs quench their thirsty at Lokiwach water pan in Silale Ward in Baringo county on January 30,2019.Residents are forced to travel several kilometers in search of water ,out of over 200 boreholes in Baringo 98 are not working. [Photo:Kipsang Joseph/Standard].

Experts have warned of a looming famine in the country following a prolonged dry spell.

The Famine Early System Network (FEWS-Net) has reported that several parts of the country are currently facing drought and are at risk of food shortage at the peak of the current dry season.

Reduced harvests

The report, which highlights food security trends until May this year, predicts that the problem will be widespread following below-average short rains that have reduced harvests by at least 30 per cent below the five-year average.

Livestock migration and conflict is expected to increase this month, disrupting livelihoods in dry-season grazing areas.

“High but typical critical levels of acute malnutrition are likely to be sustained to May 2019 in Mandera, Turkana and Samburu counties and in parts of Baringo and Marsabit counties,” the FEWS-Net report states.

Food insecurity, the report shows, will be felt more in poor households. Livestock migration to dry season grazing areas is also expected to spark resource–based conflicts as herders clash over pasture and water.

Food insecurity and conflict is, however, expected to ease after the predicted March to May long rains that are expected to regenerate forage and water resources by mid-April. 

But the rains are expected to introduce new challenges such as waterborne diseases.

The outbreaks are predicted to increase malnutrition prevalence in Turkana, Samburu, West Pokot and Marsabit.

The good news is that counties are better prepared for any fall army worm invasion this year compared to last year, thanks to sensitisation of farmers and improved pest management.