Published: Tuesday 15 August 2000

The food situation in drought-hit Kenya is a cause for serious concern. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation ( fao ), there has been a sharp increase in deaths due to starvation, especially among children. Most of the areas have received little or no rainfall, leading to wide-spread crop failures as well as large livestock losses.

The stocks of maize, which is the country's staple food, have depleted. This has lead to a sharp rise in its prices, adversely affecting the poor people. The food situation is especially pitiable for shepherds, because this is the fourth consecutive year with poor rainfall. The price of livestock has plummeted, leaving them with no money to purchase food.

Incidents of inter-ethnic armed conflicts over scarce water and pasture resources, have also been reported in many parts of the country.

With the national requirement of maize, estimated to be 3.21 milliontonnes and domestic pro-duction estimated to be 1.85 million tonnes for 2000-01, Kenya would need to import around 1.4 million tonnes of maize, the fao Global Information and Early Warning System reported.

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