Thousands face acute food shortage in arid counties

Thousands of families faced with starvation in parts of the North Rift region are in urgent need of relief supplies and health care.

About 100,000 people in West Pokot County are faced with acute food shortage due to crop failure caused by prolonged drought.

A majority of those affected have migrated to Uganda in search of food and pasture for their animals

Some of the areas affected are Ombolion, Kasei, Turkwel, Kiwawa, Kodich, Alale, Kasei, Takaiwa and Kodich in Pokot North sub-county.

SITUATION

Kacheliba Member of Parliament Mark Lomunokol on Sunday said the situation was worsening and appealed for urgent assistance from the government and humanitarian agencies.

starvationpic2 Thousands face acute food shortage in arid counties

A twelve year old Turkana girl and her younger brother are weighed at a World Food Programme screening in northern Turkana and found to be severely underweight and malnourished. Approximately 35 per cent of the population in Turkana North are malnourished and in need of assistance. PHOTO | KABIR DHANJI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“Most children and the elderly are malnourished and the government should act before the situation gets out of hand,” said Mr Lomunokol.

An estimated 3.5 million Kenyans are facing starvation due to prolonged drought and erratic rains with residents in semi-arid and arid counties bearing the brunt.

A survey by the Kenya Red Cross Society indicates many families in Turkana and West Pokot counties are faced with malnutrition and are in urgent need of food supplements.

DIRE NEED

“Most households are in dire need of food and the situation might worsen as a result of delayed rainfall,” said Michael Ayabei, the Kenya Red Cross Society programmes manager in charge of the North Rift region.

He named parts of Elgeyo Marakwet County as some of the areas experiencing inadequate food supply.

A report by the National Drought Management Authority indicates that families in 23 arid and semi-arid counties are faced with food shortage and inadequate pasture and water for animals caused by dry spell.

starvationpic3 Thousands face acute food shortage in arid counties

Carcasses of cattle spotted in Korbesa, Malkagala and Bassa areas in Isiolo County following prolonged drought. Several animals have died in the region due to biting dry spell. PHOTO | VIVIAN JEBET | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“The food and pasture situation has improved slightly from alarm to alert although it might take some time before it stabilises,” said Abdulkadir Hassan Jillo, Turkana County drought coordinator.

MALNUTRITION

A report released by the Ministry of Health, Kenya Food Security Steering Group and Early Warning Systems Network in May indicates that families in Samburu, Marsabit, Isiolo, Garissa, Mandera and Wajir counties are in urgent need of assistance to fight malnutrition.

The report indicates that 8,000 children and 5,365 mothers in Turkana County are facing severe malnutrition.

The Ministry of Health has embarked on provision of vitamin A supplements, de-worming of children and promotion of appropriate infant and child feeding practices.

The food shortage has partly been attributed to the decline in maize production in Rift Valley, the country’s grain basket, last season due to poor rains and disease attacks.

Kenyans are struggling to feed, educate and house their families

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