Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- With 23 million Kenyans facing shortage of food due to failure of seasonal rains, President Daniel arap Moi has appealed for food aid from the us and the European Union. The President made this appeal while addressing a rally at his rural home near the farming town of Nakuru, 140 km northwest of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

The estimate of people going hungry as put forward by Moi equals almost 80 per cent of a population of 29-million, but he made no mention of when or how the government reached the figure. The rainy season in Kenya usually stretches from March to May, which is also the country's main planting season. But despite tantalising overcasts, there has been little rainfall.

On the other hand, the United Nations World Food programme also decided to appeal for food for approximately 2.3 million Kenyans this year. But, according to agency spokesperson Brenda Barton, the figure is likelyto go up to 2.7 million. "Right now we are working on figures of the needy people in the whole of the Horn of Africa before making the appeal," Barton said.

According to the estimates of the United States Agency for International Development ( usaid ) Famine Early Warning System in Nairobi, this year in Kenya there will be a shortage of 2.2 million bags of maize, a staple diet for Kenyans. The government's estimate, on the other hand, is three million bags, each bag containing 90 kg of maize.

The three-year drought in Kenya is threatening 16 million people in the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia. The drought has played havoc not only with Kenya's agriculture but also with hydroelectric power and drinking water in the capital. To meet the power shortage, the energy ministry recently announced 12-hour cuts, six days a week. The crisis has worsened because rain shortages have nearly dried up rivers that feed hydroelectric dams. Already the Nairobi City Council announced water rationing from June and it will last at least until October, when the short rains are expected.

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