Drought Kenya
From left, CEO, NDMA, Hared Hassan, Chair, NSCDR and Safaricom PLC CEO, Peter Ndegwa with Chief Conservator of Forests, Julius Kamau during the National Steering Committee on Drought Response at Serena Hotel, Nairobi.

As a section of families in Kenya switch to a festive mood, millions of citizens across 23 counties in the country remain in dire need of food aid, intensifying calls for increased food and financial support.

Across Kenya, hunger is at an all-time high, leaving a population of over 4.4 million people in need of emergency food and water assistance.

The longest and most severe drought on record has left every six out of 10 residents in Turkana and Wajir counties hungry and in need of food aid.

In Mandera and Garissa counties, half of the population is lacking food. The raging drought, the worst in nearly 50 years, has left an estimated 2.5 million livestock dead with Marsabit, Samburu, Mandera, Wajir, Isiolo, and Garissa counties being worst affected.

Narok, Tharaka Nithi, Makueni, Nyeri, Meru and Laikipia counties are in the alarm phase of the drought, the latest survey from authorities monitoring the drought reads.

“Reported rains are only expected to recharge the water sources and limited pasture regeneration in pocket areas of the arid and semi-arid lands,” said Hared Hussein, the CEO, National Drought Management Authority (NDMA).

Overall, NDMA data show that 942,000 children below the age of five require treatment for acute malnutrition, a sharp increase from 884,464 reported in August this year.

Whatsmore, an estimated 134,000 pregnant and lactating women now require treatment for malnutrition compared to 115,725 women reported in August.

Peter Ndegwa, the Chairman of the government-backed National Steering Committee on Drought Response said the deteriorating conditions are caused by climate change and related factors, creating a hunger crisis for millions of people.

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“This is the fourth rain season that has failed. And the projection is that the fifth season is expected to fail,” said Mr Ndegwa while appealing for more donations to mitigate the worsening situation.

“Every Kenyan can make a big difference to the lives of the suffering Kenyans,” Mr Ndegwa, CEO Safaricom PLC, explained.

Since September 2021 to date, the NDMA has received Kes18 billion from the government while donors have channeled support worth Kes48 billion, agency Mr Hassan revealed.

While appealing for further support from Kenyans and the corporate world, Mr Ndegwa said the National Steering Committee on Drought Response has received just over Kes600 million since the creation of the drought mitigation appeal fund.

Currently, the drought mitigation appeal fund is using the money to buy and distribute food to famine-stricken populations even as they plan for long-term mitigation strategies.

One can donate via M-PESA PayBill 880990 using their name as the account number or through the National Drought Mitigation Appeal Fund under KCB Bank, Riverside branch, account number 1305486137.

“Communities have to rebuild their lives including restocking their livestock following the devastating drought. This is not a short-term fix,” he added alluding to ongoing plans by his team to showcase long-term measures that Kenya can adopt to mitigate drought.

He indicated that his team is already working on early warning systems, and water harvesting programmes to enhance the country’s preparedness for similar occurrences in the future.

The chief conservator at Kenya Forest Service Julius Kamau called on Kenyans to rally behind the ongoing tree-growing initiative noting the benefits trees provide in the mitigation of climate change adversities such as drought, floods, and environmental degradation.

President William Ruto’s administration has set out to plant 15 billion trees countrywide by 2032 to enable the country to achieve a 30 percent tree cover in 10 years.

The Horn of Africa countries including Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Ethiopia have faced two straight years of rainfall inadequate cater for basic water, agricultural and livestock needs. Current projections show these conditions will likely spread into 2023.

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