The number of Kenyans experiencing starvation in Kenya has risen from 1.3 million in August 2016 to 2.7 million following below average performance of the 2016 short rains.
According to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), majority of those affected are the most vulnerable including the elderly, the sick, mothers and children under the age of five.
“The current drought phase classification shows that the trend is deteroriating in most counties,” states the agency in its report for January 16-27.
The numbers represent about 20 per cent of the population in pastoral areas and 18 per cent in marginal agricultural areas.
“The situation continues to deteriorate rapidly, particularly in nine arid counties namely: Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Isiolo, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir and Baringo,” states the report by the Kenya Food Security Steering Group — a multi-sectoral and multiagency body that brings together relevant government sectors, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations under the leadership of the NDMA.
The report also notes drought affected counties that are neither arid nor semi-arid lands such as Elgeyo-Marakwet, Bomet, Kisumu, Busia, Kakamega, Homa Bay and parts of central Kenya.
The report adds that maize is a near total failure in Kilifi, Lamu and Tharaka-Nithi.
In addition, the production of beans, green grams and cowpeas is expected to be below normal.
The next major harvest from these regions is not expected until the end of February 2018, therefore, most households will depend on markets throughout 2017.
Maize prices are, therefore, expected to increase through 2017.
“Livestock prices are falling in tandem with decline in body condition. For instance, goat prices in December were as much as 25 per cent below their five year averages and 2015 prices.
“Demand is low, while in some places, such as parts of North Horr, livestock markets are not operational. Prices are expected to continue falling as the condition of livestock deteriorates,” says the agency.
The Government released Sh5 billion towards the end of last year, to deal with the drought situation in the country.
According to the Cabinet Secretary for Devolution and Planning Mwangi Kiunjuri, Sh1.2 billion would be used to buy livestock from affected people.