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Turkana County in dire need of emergency food: Report

A relief distribution programme in Turkana County in 2019 [Bakari Angela, Standard]

Majority of Turkana County residents are in dire need of relief food, a government report has shown.

The latest National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) report says more than 640,000 pastoralists in the arid county suffer courtesy of devastating drought.

The drought early warning bulletin notes that for the last six months, dry and hot weather conditions continue to dominate the region, putting Turkana County at an alarming stage.

The report, released last week, says drought will continue to affect vegetation with deteriorating livestock conditions.

NDMA says the situation will hit hard on pastoral areas classified as at emergency stages, with worsening trends. Residents are highly dependent on livestock for food and the dry situation will adversely affect them.

The report shows livestock migration towards the borders of Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia has been experienced. Livestock deaths and dehydration have been reported in parts of the county.

County Economic Planning chief officer Mr Jeremiah Apalia said more than 500,000 people had been affected. “We require quick intervention from government and development partners to salvage the situation. Drought has reached a worsening stage,” Mr Apalia said.

The report says the aggregate rainfall for October 2021 to March 2022 accounted for only 27 per cent of the normal rainfall for the period. Consequently, vegetation has significantly deteriorated across most pasture land and in all sub-counties.

“Majority of the sites remained water-stressed following the drying up of over 90 per cent of open water sources, breakdown of boreholes, and increased depth of traditional river wells. The three main water sources in use by residents of the three livelihood zones during the month under review were shallow wells, boreholes and traditional river wells,” states the report.

It further states that body condition for all livestock species was generally poor and on a deteriorating trend, while household and livestock access distance to water sources increased, albeit slightly. All the sites reported nil milk production and thus milk consumption.

The report says the proportion of children under five years classified as ‘severely or moderately malnourished’ increased, with households applying more severe consumption and insurance-based coping strategies in March.

“Additionally, approximately 48 per cent of households were categorised as having a poor food consumption score, with the pastoral livelihood zones presenting the highest proportion of 50.8 per cent.”

The report says the terms of trade declined further and were significantly lower than the long-term average.

Other counties in the alarming drought stage include Baringo, Isiolo, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Wajir, Kilifi, Lamu, Nyeri, West Pokot, Laikipia and Garissa.

The situation is also deteriorating in Makueni, Taita Taveta and Tana River, while for Embu, Kajiado and Narok, the situation is stable. Meru and Tharaka Nithi are in the alert stage, while the situation is improving in Kitui and Kwale counties.

A food and nutrition security assessment conducted in January by NDMA also found that more than 600,000 children were acutely malnourished.