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ASAL areas facing threats of malnutrition

Children under-five years, expectant and lactating mothers in a number of Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) across the country are facing malnutrition threat as a result of the prolonged drought that hit the country.

Cabinet Secretary for East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Development Ms. Rebecca Miano said despite the fact that the March, April and May rainfall season experienced early this year delivered positive impacts in most ASAL areas, malnutrition still remains a threat in the six counties of Marsabit, Mandera, Garissa, Baringo, Turkana and Isiolo.

Miano said even though malnutrition has reduced, there is need for intervention in the six counties and other ASAL areas that are affected by livestock diseases, high prices of maize and access to water for livestock.

In a press statement sent to newsrooms on the drought situation in the country, the CS singled out Garissa, Isiolo, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Baringo, Turkana, Kajiado, Kilifi, Meru North, Narok and West Pokot as the Counties affected by livestock diseases.

She announced that the government in collaboration with partners will continue to support drought intervention by providing unconditional cash transfers, screening and treating malnutrition cases, rehabilitating and maintaining water facilities, treating and vaccinating against emerging livestock diseases by county governments in order to cushion lives and livelihoods of affected communities.

“The government and partners are undertaking these interventions as a measure to boost resilience against drought and other climate-related shocks,” said Miano.

The CS also announced that her ministry through the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) is de-silting water pans and restocking livestock in the highly vulnerable households in targeted counties.

“The ministry through NDMA is closely monitoring the drought situation as the government prioritizes the long-term climate adaptation and resilience building for the ASALs,” she stated.

She further stated that the government through the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) will in July next month conduct the long rains food and nutrition security assessment for this year to determine the impacts of the long rains on the local livelihoods, whose outcome will determine both the medium-term and long term drought interventions.

“The assessment is critical since food security and insecurity in the country, especially in the 23 ASAL counties, is highly dependent on rainfall,” said Miano.

The CS disclosed that the assessment carried out in February 2023 indicated that at least 4.4 million Kenyans were food insecure, a situation she noted has been reversed by the rainfall recorded in March.

She said the long rainfall improved vegetation and forage conditions across the ASALs by 75 and 83 percent in all counties except parts of Kajiado, Turkana and Taita-Taveta counties.

“Water recharge in most of the open water sources stood at over 80 percent in most ASAL counties while the livestock body condition is now above normal leading to remarkable increase in milk production,” stated Miano.

The CS added that the long rainfall also improved crop production across the marginal agriculture livelihood zones with harvesting of pulses still going on.

By Bernadette Khaduli

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