Kenya Drought Declared National Disaster

Disaster area in 23 of 47 counties

21 Sep 2021 by The Water Diplomat
Nairobi, Kenya

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta declared the drought affecting various parts of the country a national disaster on 8 September.

In August, the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) has estimated that some 2.1 million Kenyans would face acute food shortages following poor performance of both the October-December 2020 short rains and the March-May 2021 long rains. The NDMA also predicted that the population would be in need of assistance during the coming six months, and that the population in need of assistance had increased by 70 Percent since February this year.

The drought has affected 23 of Kenya’s 47 recently established counties, located predominantly in the north, north-east, and coastal parts of the country. The NDMA has predicted that the number of people facing acute food shortages could climb to 2.4 million in the period from October to December if, as predicted, the country’s short rain period will experience lower than average rainfall. Counties facing the risk of severe exposure to drought are Baringo, Kajiado, Kwale, Laikipia, Lamu, Makueni, Meru, Taita Taveta and Tharaka Nithi and West Pokot.

According to the Kenya Red Cross, the drought can be expected to have an especially disastrous impact as it follows flash floods in many of the same counties in April 2020 and swarms of locusts in the same year that had been the worst seen in Kenya in 70 years. Producers in these areas have had little opportunity to recover, despite the Kenyan government having declared in April this year that it had managed to contain the locust invasion.

Production of maize, the country’s staple crop, is projected to decline by 50 Percent in the affected regions, and urban areas are projected to face higher food prices as a result of the diminished production. The Kenya Red Cross launched a drought response operation in the country in August, aiming to deliver humanitarian assistance to 500,000 people (100,000 households) over a period of 18 months. 

Following the declaration of a national disaster by the State President, the National Treasury and the Ministry of the Interior and Coordination of National Government will spearhead government responses which will include water and food relief distribution as well as livestock uptake.               

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