, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 14 – The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) has launched a Sh1.5 billion appeal for drought response to support people faced with famine.
Secretary General Abbas Gullet said on Friday that they aimed to assist about 1.8 million people over the next six months.
"This can be in cash, kind or support towards the drought response," Mr Gullet said.
He said the current immediate needs were water and pasture adding that an assessment was being carried out to establish the exact food needs in the country.
"In 2009/2010, there were good harvests in most of the farming communities but we know there are some parts of the country that have slightly excess food and there are others that have food deficit already," Mr Gullet told a news conference.
"In the previous long rain assessment that was done in July and August, the report in September indicated that there was generally an improved food security situation in the country," he added.
He said the population of 1.8 million people faced with starvation was now coping through livestock migration, voluntary livestock off -take and others were dropping out of pastoralism to small-holder crop farming especially those living around permanent rivers such as Tana and Ewaso Nyiro.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Kenya Aeneas Chuma said the current situation was still manageable if immediate action was taken.
"Drought is no longer an exception in this part of the world, it is now a structural issue. If you notice droughts are much more frequent now, they are much more severe and they last longer so we can no longer wait until every cycle to respond to it as an emergency," Mr Chuma said.
"We need to make structural investments to deal with this issue so that we can prepare and anticipate," he added.
According to the KRCS assessment reports, the drought was evolving in the Upper Eastern, North Rift, North Eastern, Coast and Lower Eastern regions.
The humanitarian organisation has proposed short-term interventions which include rehabilitation of strategic boreholes to serve migrating animals and support peace initiatives to avoid conflicts.
The proposed long term interventions focus on mobilisation of communities to use local resources, appropriate sustainable solutions and appropriate technology water supply systems to mitigate the current drought situation and future trends.
The Kenya Meteorological department had in July last year predicted La Nina conditions and they are already being experienced in Rift Valley, Eastern, North Eastern and Coast regions following minimal rainfall conditions in the October- December short rains.
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