What you need to know:
- The Kenya Food Security Steering Group has also found that 1.4 million people face acute hunger.
- Pastoralist families now face a difficult choice between feeding themselves and their animals.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the northern and northeastern counties are staring at starvation. The most affected are Marsabit and Mandera, whose leaders have sent out an appeal for assistance.
The Kenya Food Security Steering Group has also found that 1.4 million people face acute hunger. The situation has been aggravated by the Covid-19 lockdown as pastoralists cannot transport their animals to Nairobi for sale to avert further losses.
The government and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) attribute the crisis to low levels of rainfall that have resulted in poor food crop harvests and declining livestock. The northern regions are also reeling under the effects of climate change with concerns about poverty and food insecurity. That has been worsened by the pandemic wreaking havoc on the country.
Pastoralist families now face a difficult choice between feeding themselves and their animals. Following livestock deaths, the next victims will, definitely, be the people. Livelihoods have been wiped out for families that rely on livestock for meat, milk, transportation and trade.
The situation is worsening by the day with local leaders warning that, unless the national government and well-wishers step in, they will be overwhelmed. In Mandera, at least 200,000 people, or 30 per cent of the county’s residents, are in dire need of relief food, as the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) has confirmed.
Hunger and starvation is a perennial problem that calls for an innovative sustainable solution. The prevailing crisis is blamed on failed rains and last year’s desert locust invasion. But tackling hunger is possible. The vast swathes of the arid and semi-arid lands hold massive potential that can be harnessed to boost livestock production and provide markets for the pastoralists.
Of course, this calls for the channelling of more resources to the region, which is being realised through devolution.