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Government and FAO sign action plan to mitigate drought in ASAL Counties

Kenya’s drought response plan requires a total of Sh9.4 billion for the period July – November 2021, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), has stated.

Out of this, Sh5.8 billion will be for food and safety net support and Sh3.6 billion for non-food interventions.

Carla Mucavi, the FAO Representative to Kenya, says that the Organisation is seeking a total of Sh1. 6 billion (USD 15,007,460) to cushion livestock assets and vulnerable pastoral households against the adverse effects of the drought.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary (CS), Eugene Wamalwa and FAO Representative, Carla Mucavi, when signing of Anticipatory Action and Response Plan for Pastoral and Agro-pastoral communities in ASAL counties. Photo by Wangari Ndirangu

The money will go towards supporting water interventions measures to water Livestock and domestic use and to enhance access to food and nutrition.

This will include basic needs by farming households and to strengthen the institutional and technical capacity of National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) for effective implementation of the early warning mechanism.

Mucavi was speaking, during the signing of Anticipatory Action and Response Plan for Pastoral and Agropastoral Communities in ASAL Counties between FAO and the Ministry of Devolution and the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs).

The FAO Rep. said livelihood conditions have declined as a result of reduced access to pasture and the Action Plan will curb the compounded threat to food and nutrition security.

“56 per cent of the ASAL counties have reported increased trekking distances to water sources for livestock and domestic use and this is expected to get worse in the coming months hence the need for urgent anticipatory action,’ she said

The ASAL communities affected are Samburu, Isiolo, Turkana, Garissa, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir and Tana River.

This is a response to alert sent in June 2021, where 12 of the 23 ASAL counties were in the alert drought phase, while 16 reported a declining trend which is an abnormal occurrence at the immediate end of the season.

Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Ministry of Devolution and the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs), Eugene Wamalwa, said that call for Anticipatory Action will go a long way in building the resilience of the communities in the affected Counties

“The Government welcomes the support and collaboration of partners such as FAO in addressing this situation and urgent action and a coordinated response is needed from donors and other concerned stakeholders before the situation deteriorates further,” the CS said.

According to the current drought indicators, an estimated two million people in ASAL counties are now in need of assistance and this figure is likely to rise as the situation worsens.

“There is a severe deficit of vegetation in Isiolo County and in Lagdera Sub- County of Garissa, while the rest of Garissa and Kilifi, Marsabit, Tana River, and Wajir counties report a moderate vegetation deficit,” FAO says.

The proportion of children at risk of malnutrition is also already above average in seven ASAL counties of Embu, Taita Taveta, Makueni, Narok, Kajiado, Meru, Nyeri.

In addition to that, families are now forced to cover longer distances to access water for domestic and livestock use as water sources have dried up.

The 2020 Short Rains Assessment has established that the season had performed poorly and as of February 2021, 1.4 million people in ASAL counties were already experiencing acute food insecurity.

This was aggravated by other factors, including the Covid-19 pandemic, the desert locust invasion, food commodity price spikes, and livestock diseases.

Since then, the long rains in March-May 2021 have also under-performed and the onset of the season was late with the amount of rainfall below normal in most ASAL counties, and its distribution in both space and time poor.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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