4.4 million people in ASAL counties food insecure despite rains – government

While the long-awaited March-May rains have caused some form of relief to Kenyans, it seems they are yet to yield noticeable changes to those most affected by the drought.

According to the Ministry of East African Community Arid and Semi-Arid lands (ASALs) and Regional Development, 21 of the 23 ASAL counties remain in drought stress due to delayed rain and five failed consecutive rain seasons.

Marsabit and Turkana remain in the Emergency drought phase while eight other counties namely; Isiolo, Mandera, Kajiado, Samburu, Tana River, Wajir, Kilifi and Kitui are in the Alarm phase.

Baringo, Embu, Garissa, Lamu, Makueni, Laikipia, Narok, Nyeri, Meru, Kwale and Taita-Taveta are in the alert phase while West Pokot and Tharaka Nithi are in the normal drought phase.

East African Community ASAL Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Miano noted the efforts by the national and county governments, Kenyans of good will and non-state actors in drought response interventions.

“The National and County governments, with the support of development partners, the private sector, non-state actors and Kenyans of good will have continued to extend drought response interventions to cushion  lives and livelihoods of those affected. Ongoing drought response interventions include distribution of relief food, cash transfers, screening and treatment for malnutrition, water trucking, provision of livestock feeds and livestock off-take,” she said in a press statement.

The government has reportedly spent KES 1.2 billion for drought response across the country in March 2023 alone.

“The private sector-led National Steering Committee on Drought Response distributed relief food worth KES 400 million to affected households in 23 ASAL counties under Wakenya Tulindane initiative. The relief assistance was also scaled up to pockets of drought affected non-traditional ASAL counties,” it read.

Miano went on to call on benefactors to continue sharing resources in the fight against drought.

The situation is however expected to improve in April following ongoing rains.

As it stands and as determined by the Short Rains Assessment for October-December 2022 season conducted between January and February 2023;

  • 4.4 million persons in ASAL counties and a further 495, 362 persons in 9 non-traditional ASAL counties remain in need of food assistance.
  • Over 970, 000 children under 5 years and over 142, 000 pregnant and lactating mothers suffer acute malnutrition and therefore require therapeutic feeding.

  • Under integrated phase classification (IPC), 3.6 million people are in Crisis Phase (IPC Phase 3) with another 800, 000 in Emergency Phase (IPC Phase 4).

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