The Government plans to spend at least Sh8 billion in feeding hundreds of persons in the drought ravaged parts of Nyeri County.
Central Region National Drought Management Coordinator Lordman Lekalkul told the press that at least 200,000 people are currently in dire need of food in parts of Nyeri with the situation expected to last until June this year.
The officer further said the drought situation is not expected to improve much this year either even with the onset of the March -April rains season after the weatherman warned the rains will be depressed.
Among areas worst hit by the drought include Kieni East, Kieni West, Mathira East and Mathira West.
“We are providing 200,000 people with food with the cost estimated to come close to Sh3 billion including conducting water rehabilitation projects. If it is going to rain the effects will be felt in July since any harvesting can only be in June and July. Then after that we can plan for the worst-case scenario,” he said.
Apart from assistance from the county government, NDMA has received Sh5 million from World Vision with Sh3.5 billion earmarked for rehabilitation of crucial boreholes.
Lekalkul blamed the food crisis affecting many parts of Kenya on the failed short rains and warned that the situation is projected to worsen the food shortage in the Central region.
Besides Nyeri County, the drought crisis is being felt in Kirinyaga and Murang’a where 138,000 and 54,000 persons respectively are in dire need of relief food.
“According to our assessment we found that people who were dependent on rain-fed agriculture, 90 per cent of their crops did not reach maturity. So, it means people did not have any food to eat,” said Lekalkul.
“Again, there were people who were doing irrigated agriculture who were facing a lot of challenges because the rivers we have in Nyeri are also running at very low levels meaning they cannot be able to irrigate their farms adequately because of inadequate water in rivers,” he added.
According to a recent report by NDMA, the number of people in need of assistance was projected to increase to 4.35 million by October last year due to failed short rains.
Humanitarian partners estimate that there will be 6.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance this year in the ASALs region of Kenya. It is also reported that at least 4.35 million people are going to bed hungry and about 5 million people cannot access enough water for drinking, cooking and cleaning.
Families are taking desperate measures to survive, including fleeing their homes in search of sustenance, and the risks faced by women and girls have risen sharply since the drought began.
There are also growing reports of children dropping out of school and child marriage cases as the country grapples with her fifth season of failed rain in more than 40 years.
The United Nations and humanitarian partners in Kenya are appealing for $472.6million to help 4.3 million drought-affected people this year, in support of the government-led response.
By Samuel Maina and Joyce Kiragu