3.5 million Kenyans face starvation due to drought

What you need to know:

  • The number of pregnant and lactating women who need treatment for severe famine stands at 134,000, up from 115,727 last month
  • The number of children facing acute malnutrition as a result of severe drought increased from 884,464 in August to 942,000 this month
  • Food shortage was caused by crop failure caused by drought that damaged crops planted in April and May

An estimated one million children below five years and more than 100,000 pregnant and lactating women need urgent treatment for malnutrition.

 This as more than 3.5 million Kenyans face starvation due to acute food shortage caused by drought-induced crop failure.

National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) and Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) statistics show that the number of children faced with acute malnutrition increased from 884,464 in August to 942,000 this month.

At the same time, pregnant and lactating women in need of treatment for severe famine stands at 134,000, up from 115,727 last month.

More than 10 counties, mainly in Northern Kenya, are at the alarm stage with thousands of families facing starvation in urgent need of support.

According to KRCS’s latest report, some 80,000 families in West Pokot risk starving as do  another 100,000 households in Turkana County.

Women carrying firewood walk past a carcass of a cow in drought hit Loiyangalani in Marsabit, Northern Kenya

Women carrying firewood walk past a carcass of a cow in Loiyangalani, which is the worst affected by the prolonged drought, in Marsabit, northern Kenya, on July 12, 2022. . Four consecutive seasons have witnessed poor rains, leaving millions of drought-stricken people in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia facing starvation.

Photo credit: Simon Maina | AFP

KRCS Manager in charge of North Rift Esther Chege yesterday said they have embarked on providing vitamin A supplements, deworming children and promoting appropriate child feeding practices.

Some 8,000 children and 5,365 mothers in Turkana County face severe malnutrition.

“We’re partnering with Usaid, Ministry of Health and the county government in provision of healthcare for those suffering malnutrition, especially children and the aged,” she said.

They are also rehabilitating water points to check the outbreak of waterborne diseases.

“We are working to save lives and build resilience in the most vulnerable communities,” Ms Chege added.

She disclosed that the agency has distributed foodstuff to households and issued drought resistant seeds—sorghum, finger millet and green grams—to families in affected areas. It has also carried out destocking.

In Turkana, Ms Chege said, 103,000 households risk severe starvation with Turkana East, Turkana North, Kibish and Loima sub-counties hard hit.

More than 30,000 residents have had to cross to Katido and Kaboong districts in Uganda in search for food, and pasture and water for their animals.

A NDMA report indicates that families in arid and semi-arid lands (Asals) in 23 counties are faced with food shortages and inadequate pasture and water for their animals.

Another report by Health ministry, Kenya Food Security Steering Group and Early Warning Systems Network in May points at families in crisis in Samburu, Marsabit, Isiolo, and Garissa.

Mandera and Wajir are also in urgent need of humanitarian aid due undernourishment.

Leaders from the affected counties have petitioned the government to undertake humanitarian interventions to avert calamities as witnessed in previous droughts.

“The families have experienced difficulties in getting relief food and normal supply needs to be restored to avert further tragedy,” Ekiru Lobuel from Kibish Sub-county said.

Several counties in Northern Kenya region hard hit by drought are to benefit from funds to be coordinated by NDMA to reduce the impact of malnutrition among children.

The government has disbursed Sh1.1 billion to cushion poor and vulnerable families in Turkana, Wajir, Mandera and Garissa counties from the effects of the drought.

The money is to be channelled through the Hunger Safety Net Programme.