At least 439,000 households in Mandera County are staring at an uncertain future due to the worsening drought.
The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) local office has warned that if the rains expected in September fail, the county will be in a crisis.
“We are at an emergency stage and the situation is fast worsening. Most pastoralists have migrated into neighbouring countries and counties but the same areas are also experiencing drought,” said Mr Hussein Mohamed Alio, Mandera drought coordinator.
The affected households lack food and water and lucky ones only get one meal a day, he said.
“The situation is worse in areas along the common borders in Mandera West, Mandera South and Lafey,” he said.
He said some pastoralists have left Mandera and are in Tana River County in search of pasture and water for their livestock.
At least 120 settlements in Mandera are being supplied with water under the water trucking programme, the NDMA said.
The national government, through the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) and the Kenya Red Cross, has been purchasing weak animals from pastoralists, cushioning them against losses from deaths.
“We have been buying weak cattle at Sh15,000 each, slaughtering them and distributing meat to the locals affected by drought,” said Mr Mustafa Adan, local Red Cross coordinator.
He said at least 30,000 households have benefited from the livestock off-take programme in Mandera County.
Another 2600 households received Sh10,600 each from the Kenya Red Cross under the cash transfer programme to take them through July, August and September.
“We are carrying out medical outreach services targeting children under five years as we continue to provide livestock feed to those pastoralists in Mandera,” Mr Adan said.
Mandera County Commissioner Onesmus Kyatha called on the county government to fast-track drought mitigation measures as the situation gets worse.
“We have faced drought challenges for the past three years and the new administration has to take up that and deal with it as a priority,” Mr Kyatha said.
The situation is the same in neighbouring Wajir County, with residents reporting that they are staring at a catastrophe.
“Animals are already dying in Wajir, but I am hoping the newly elected leaders will provide mitigation measures to save human lives,” said Mr Ali Hassan.
In Garissa County, Lagdera MP Abdikadir Hussein appealed for immediate mitigation in the constituency.
“Residents of Lagdera need immediate intervention from both levels of government because the drought situation is getting worse,” he said.
He said residents are trekking long distances in search of water for domestic and livestock use.
“I have spoken to the county commissioner, who I believe gets regular briefs, and we are all in agreement that the situation is dire and requires urgent intervention,” Mr Hussein said.
He was confident that both levels of government will find a solution to perennial water shortages that have bedeviled Lagdera constituency.
“As the area MP, I will push both governments to find a solution to the water shortage in Lagdera. It cannot be business as usual as our people continue suffering due to lack of basic commodities like water,” he said.
Garissa Governor Nathif Jama has pledged to construct a mega dam in Modogashe to harvest rain water.