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Current drought in Horn of Africa worst since 2010, says IGAD

IGAD Executive Secretary Mahboub Maalim/MUTHONI WAWERU

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 7 – At least 20 million people are food insecure in countries under the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), with Somalia being the worst hit country.

According to the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change in Somalia, the number of food insecure people has doubled in the last year alone with terms of trade declining in other affected regions.

“In the drought affected cropping lands (in Somalia and Kenya), 70pc to 100pc crop failure has been registered,” indicates the report. “Livestock mortality has been particularly devastating with mortality rate ranging from 25pc to 75pc in the cross border areas of Somali-Kenya-Ethiopia, as well as the prices dropping by as much as 700pc.”

The current drought situation in Kenya and the Horn of Africa is expected to persist for the better part of the year, going by the climate predictions and early warnings produced by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In a press briefing, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s Executive Secretary Mahboub Maalim said the current drought is far much worse than that of 2010-2011, resulting to depleted water points, reduced crops, increased food insecurity and adversely affecting the livelihoods of vulnerable communities in the region.

Maalim also emphasized the importance of governments to set aside a kitty that would mitigate and look into such calamities to prevent both loss of life and properties.

He commended countries that have such plans in place, stating that by doing so, the adverse effects of the drought have been addressed.

For instance Somalia and South Sudan have declared emergencies. Kenya announced a doubling of expenditure on food relief to ease the pressure in the drought affected counties, while Uganda shifted some of its development to finance emergency response in order to address food insecurity and livelihood protection.

Maalim also stressed the need for coordination between governments with humanitarian bodies and the civil society organizations for efficient and swift response systems.

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Currently there are 2.7 million Kenyans affected by drought.

Many of those affected are the most vulnerable including the elderly, the sick, mothers and children under the age of five, according to the National Drought Management Authority.

The numbers represent approximately 20pc of the population in pastoral areas and 18pc in marginal agricultural areas.

The current drought phase classification indicates that the trend is worsening in most counties.

According to findings of the just concluded assessment of the 2016 short rains, the most affected sectors remain food, livestock and water.

“The situation continues to deteriorate rapidly particularly in nine arid counties namely Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Isiolo, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir and Baringo,” indicates the authority.

The Kenya report conducted by the Food Security Steering Group from January 16-27, 2017 has also identified drought affected pockets of non-Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASAL) counties such as Elgeyo Marakwet, Bomet, Kisumu, Busia, Kakamega, Homa Bay and parts of Central Kenya.

The government enhanced interventions by October 2016 when it became evident that the situation was worsening.

A multi-sectoral and inter-governmental planning process led to the adoption of a Cabinet Memorandum in November 2016 which set out three phases of activity: Phase 1 – November 2016 to January 2017 (Sh5.4 billion); Phase II – February to April 2017 (Sh9 billion); Phase III – May to July 2017 (Sh7 billion).

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On Monday the Council of Governors (CoG) met to discuss significant issues affecting the country where it was resolved that each county will contribute sh1mn to the Kenya Red Cross famine kitty.

In addition to the Sh1mn contribution by each county, individual Governors were asked to make a personal contribution to support areas affected by drought.

The CoG further urged the National Government to convene an urgent summit to discuss short and long-term measures that should be employed to deal with the current famine, which according to the Governors should have been declared a national disaster to get the attention it deserves.

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