18 counties adversely affected by malnutrition

Pupils of Mwangaza Primary School in Isiolo County on August 9, 2023 consume supper porridge which has a combination of 15 macronutrients. [Bruno Mutunga, Standard]

The National Drought Management Authority (NMDA) has identified 18 counties where cases of malnutrition among minors are on the rise due to the recent drought.

According to the Authority, cases of malnutrition in Kilifi, Tharaka Nithi, and West Pokot counties were on the rise with the situation worsening in Narok and Nyeri counties.

Other affected counties include Baringo, Garissa, Isiolo, Kwale, Laikipia, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Tana River, and Turkana.

Decreased food intake at the family level, low purchasing power, and a rise in the prices of basic commodities have been blamed for the health crisis.

In its monthly report, the authority called for the provision of food assistance and regular cash transfers targeting food-insecure families in the affected counties.

Already, 19 ASAL counties which were adversely affected by the drought have recovered following the recent rains that had been pounding parts of the country.

NDMA noted that acute malnutrition had been noted among children below five years and pregnant and lactating women across the counties.

“The high cases of malnutrition can be attributed to high commodity prices, low purchasing power, poor child feeding practices, and decreased food intake at the household level,” said the report.

Despite the challenges, the Authority noted that in the majority of counties, there was overall stability and improvement in the trend of milk production in June compared to May.

NMDA said that milk production was yet to fully stabilise due to a decline in tropical livestock units and low birth rates attributed to residual effects of livestock mortality experienced during the drought.

“Milk production is expected to increase as the birth rate of small stock increases following improved body condition of livestock,” said the report.

However, there are concerns over a rise in livestock diseases in Garissa, Isiolo, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Baringo, Turkana, Kajiado, Kilifi, Meru North, Narok, and West Pokot.

The Authority has called for the rehabilitation and maintenance of water facilities, provision of water treatment tablets, and provision of water storage tanks for rainwater harvesting.

Earlier, East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Development CS Rebecca Miano said the government had released an additional Sh2b to secure relief food.

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

Meanwhile, in Samburu County, local leaders are calling on the national government and well-wishers to come to the rescue of residents still facing starvation.

Speaking during the distribution of foodstuff to families that lost livestock in the prolonged drought, Woman Representative Pauline Lenguris said more than 100,000 people were still in need of food.

“These people are suffering after losing their livestock to the drought that we experience here. They are yet to recover, and it is only human to remember them at this time,” she said. The lawmaker said the most affected were women, children, and the sick and elderly people.

According to the drought agency, some 155,000 people are affected by drought in the county. Lenguris distributed some 800 bags of rice, and 320 bags of beans to the affected families in Maralal town.

Additional Reporting by Michael Saitoti

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