Kenya drought: Half the country to experience food insecurity till December 2021

The drought will put around 2 million people in need of assistance till December

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 20 August 2021

Food insecurity in Kenya is likely to persist till the end of this year, putting 1,913,265 people in need of assistance, according to a report released August 17, 2021

The East African country has a total of 47 counties. Of them, 11 are in the ‘normal’ drought phase, while 12 are in the drought alert phase, according to the July bulletin of the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA). 

The report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) outlined an emergency action plan to mitigate the situation. 

Scanty rainfall during October-December 2020 and March-May 2021 led to prevailing drought conditions, said IFRC. 

In June 2021, most arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) areas received less than 50 per cent of the average rainfall, causing a decline in the health of vegetation compared to the preceding month. Those in the northeastern region received less than 25 per cent of average precipitation that month. 

The drought situation is expected to last till September in the ASAL counties, according to IFRC. A large share of the population in these areas are pastoralists and agro-pastoralists. 

Deteriorating conditions of vegetation, increased distances to water sources, worsening livestock conditions, reduced milk production and increased number of children at risk of malnutrition were observed in an August 2 report by NDMA. 

Household food access will remain constrained as staples will be dearer than average, IFRC projected. “As a result, critical nutrition outcomes will persist in children under five years of age.”

Reduced daily meals, eating food low in nutrition and sale of more livestock than usual will become coping strategies for these families, according to the report.

Rainfall from October to December this year will determine whether the condition in the affected countries will improve, said IFRC. Early projections for the period indicate that the country is likely to experience La Nina conditions, which are associated with low precipitation in East Africa. 

Kenya is prone to drought because only 20 per cent of the country receives adequate, regular rainfall.

The Kenyan drought management system uses five drought early warning phases categorised as normal, alert, alarm, emergency and recovery. 

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