NAIROBI, Kenya, April 1 – Government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna Thursday said more than 1.4 million Kenyans are facing hunger and starvation, and potentially face acute food insecurity.
Oguna said this will be necessitated by the poor performance of the short rains in the months of October-December2020 in addition to the forecast of poor performance of the 2021 long-rains season.
According to the Meteorological Department, the expected rainfall in the 2021 long rainy season is likely to be depressed, with only a few areas in the regions of Nyanza, Western, Central, parts of Rift Valley and Eastern are likely to receive above-average rainfall.
He said the situation was compounded further by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the desert locust invasion.
“The projected annual production of maize for the year 2020 was 43.2millionof 90 kgs bags of maize, against the country’s annual requirement of 47,000,000 bags. The actual harvest for that year was 41,551,550 bags, translating to a deficit of about 5,500,000 bags,which was offset by importation of the commodity from the region,” he said.
Oguna, who was addressing journalists however noted that the government has put in place measures to support Kenyans living in such regions including the provision of relief food by the county government.
Other measures include the implementation of a cash transfer program which sees every household receive 2,700 every two months.
“Other Safety Net Programs such as InuaJamii form part of the interventions which continue to be implemented, Government has also availed subsidized seeds, fertilizers, and a wide range of farm inputs to increase small-scale farms productivity. This program targets over 1.4 million small-scale farmers in 37 Counties,” he added.
Regarding the locust menace in the country, Oguna said the government in partnership with development partners had achieved a 95 percent success rate in the mitigation of locust invasion and the locusts were likely to disappear in two weeks.
“We want to take this opportunity to thank all the Agencies that worked tirelessly to ensure that the locust menace is brought under control. Farmers across the areas previously infested with the pest can plant their crops as previously advised by the Government,” his statement read in part.