, NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 12 – More than two million Kenyans risk facing hunger because of a prolonged drought, the Government has warned.
Speaking after chairing an inter-ministerial meeting to access the drought situation, Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri sounded an alarm that 11 counties will be affected by the dry spell, this is an upsurge from the five counties the government had announced in its initial assessment released in November last year.
The CS attributed the worsening situation to the failing short rains which were expected to run from November and December.
“Performance of the short rains season 2016 was below average and characterised by poor spatial and temporal distribution in most of the ASAL areas. Consequently, drought conditions in Kenya are worse now, at the end of the short rains season, than they were before the season began. For counties at the Coast and in the south-east, the poor short rains of 2016 followed an equally poor long rains season, and for some, a poor short rains in 2015 as well,” Kiunjuri told a news conference.
The CS said the recent assessment shows that the worst affected areas are in the country’s semi-arid south-east regions as well as some parts of central and western Kenya.
He announced that the government will be releasing Sh9.2 billion to go toward various measures aimed at mitigating the situation even as he cautioned the livestock sector will be hardest hit.
“The livestock sector is particularly at risk, because Coastal region is usually the dry season grazing fall-back and it is currently experiencing severe drought. Further, cross border mitigations are limited because neighbouring countries are also affected,” the Devolution CS explained.
The inter-ministerial team will release a comprehensive report on the drought situation at the end of this month.
“The customary assessment of the short rains season is on-going. This will determine the precise impact of the season on food security and identify the number needing assistance,” the Devolution CS stated.
Kiunjuri further confirmed that National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has reported that it has 1.3 million bags for Strategic Grain Reserve as at December 22 of which maize stocks stood at 21.4 million (90Kg bags).
“According to the State Department of Agriculture the current stocks of our basic staples – maize, beans, rice, sorghum and millet are sufficient to last the country up to June 2017,” he stated.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development confirmed that they have been allocated Sh230 million to effect the livestock uptake programme meant to support pastoralists and dairy farmers in the affected areas.
“We have already bought 1,800 animals, we gave Sh170 million to Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) of which they have already bought 1,500 animals in Kilifi, Samburu and Tana River counties and we have just received reports that animals are being affected severely in North-Eastern Baringo, the Tiaty area, so we are also moving there. We expect the next allocation will still go towards off-take because we have been warned that this drought could persist well into April or June,” Livestock Andrew Tuimur said.
The Ministry has also allocated Sh50 million to the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) assist farmer whose crops are likely to fail and cattle-herders who are also struggling to keep their animals alive.