Despite rains, 21 counties still facing drought challenges

A matatu driving through a flooded section along Kenyatta Avenue after heavy rains in Nairobi. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Despite the ongoing rains that have been pounding parts of the country, the  drought situation remains critical in 21 counties, with over four million people still in need of food assistance.

According to the latest data from the National Drought Management Authority (NMDA), the rains had caused flash floods displacing tens of families and killing hundreds of livestock.

However, in its monthly bulletin, the authority noted that the condition of pastures and distance to water sources was improving due to the rains.

Marsabit and Turkana counties were noted to have remained in the emergency drought phase while Isiolo, Mandera, Kajiado, Samburu, Tana River, Wajir, Kilifi and Kitui were in the alarm phase.

“Despite the reported rains in most parts of the country in the last part of March, the rains are yet to impact production systems,” said the authority.

The assessment further noted that acute malnutrition had been reported in the 21 counties, with 970,214 children aged six to 59 months and 142,179 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers malnourished and in need of treatment.

“The number of people in need of assistance still stands at 4.4 million with minors, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers being the most affected,” read the report.

Flash floods

On the impact of the rainfall, NDMA said that flash floods had been reported in Marsabit, Mandera, Garissa, Isiolo, Samburu, Narok, Taita Taveta and Wajir counties.

The authority said the floods had displaced tens of families and swept hundreds of livestock, further impoverishing the affected families.

“In River Tana, water levels are on the rise, raising the probability of flooding and thus the need for monitoring and sensitization of communities along the river belt to move to safer grounds.”

The authority further noted that pasture remained poor in 65 per cent of arid and semi-arid counties, with a rise in cases of livestock diseases reported.

The diseases include Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP), Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP) and Pest Petis Ruminantes (PPR) and foot and mouth diseases.

Earlier, EAC CS Rebecca Miano said that the Government had released an additional Sh2B to secure relief food and distribution for affected counties.

She added that NDMA would provide livestock feed supplements and implement water-related interventions with funding from National Drought Emergency Fund and the European Union.

Miano added that the Ministry was in the process of dispatching 60,480 bags (50kgs) of livestock feed supplements worth Sh145m to 8 ASAL counties.

“We have already dispatched feeds to Kitui, Makueni, Kajiado, Marsabit and Isiolo, and finalizing logistics for Mandera, Wajir and Nyeri.”