The National Drought and Management Authority (NDMA) has called for immediate interventions to curb the increasing number of malnutrition cases among children below six years and lactating mothers in Arid and Semi-Arid areas (ASALs), following the current drought in the country.
In a press statement released Friday, the Authority shows that due to worsening household food crises, malnutrition among children and the lactating mothers reported last month, rose from 884,464 and 117,725 to 942,000 and 134,000 respectively.
“Kenya is among the Horn of Africa countries affected by the current severe drought in the region that has left millions across the region, facing acute food insecurity and malnutrition,” said the NDMA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lt. Col (Rtd) Hared Hassan in the statement.
Hassan revealed that three more counties of Laikipia, Tharaka Nithi and Tana River had also moved to the drought alarm phase from alert stage.
“The three counties have joined Isiolo, Mandera, Garissa, Turkana, Wajir, Samburu and Marsabit, bringing the number of counties in Alarm phase to 10,” said the CEO, adding that the rest of ASALs counties are in drought alert phase.
However, Baringo, West Pokot and Lamu are in normal drought phase, a situation attributed to moderate off-season rains.
Hassan noted that due to drought situation, livestock was severely affected and he called for concerted efforts to mitigate the situation.
“Forecast for the October to November short rains season indicates below average performance, hence the need for concerted anticipatory action by key drought risk management players,” he said.
“The current pasture and drought condition is not expected to last long due to high concentration of livestock in the dry season grazing areas,” he added.
The NDMA boss however revealed that in partnership with United Nation agencies and other 70 non-state actors, they are working to scale up responses interventions in targeted and critical areas for instance in water, livestock, health and nutrition, education, security and social protection.
Hassan said the government disbursed Sh4 billion to beneficiaries under the Hunger Safety Net programme and an addition of Sh3.45 for emergency relief in the last financial year.
In the same financial year, another Sh 950 million was spent on livestock offtake programmes and Sh 446 million for water response activities.
He added that over Sh3.23 million was also spent under the Inua Jamii cash transfer programme to 402,098 beneficiaries in the ASALs, while at the same time the Ministry of Education used Sh2.2 billion for school feeding programme, benefiting about 851,987 learners in some 2,855 schools.
The CEO further said that they had allocated about 40,000 bags of 50 kg each of formulated livestock feed supplement to seven counties of Garissa, Marsabit, Isiolo, Wajir, Kajiado, Tana River and Mandera to cushion vulnerable residents.
“The feeds target livestock left behind, as the larger herds migrate in search of pasture and water. These herds provide milk for family members who remain at home, especially children, women and the elderly,” said Hassan.
By Muturi Mwangi