- Written by Peace Loise Mbae
The number of children facing starvation in Kenya has risen by half a million raising concerns over food security in a country whose main contributor to the economy is agriculture.
According to a report study by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) 1.6m are facing starvation up from 1.1m in March this year.
“174,954 children are not attending pre-primary and primary schools as a direct result of the drought,” reads the UNICEF Kenya Humanitarian Report.
This has been echoed by National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) which says there could be an upsurge in Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) especially in counties classified as Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) in the period leading to October.
According to NDMA, most parts of Turkana are projected to face extremely critical levels (30-31 per cent) of malnutrition, with the situation classified as critical (15-29.9 per cent) in parts of West Pokot, Garissa, Mandera, Wajir and Samburu.
“Cumulative rainfall expected to be above average for eastern parts of the country, below average in the southeast and northern parts,” the NDMA notes in its October – December short rains forecast.
The situation is expected to be significantly serious (10-14.9 per cent) in Laikipia and Moyale and moderate (less than five per cent) in Kajiado, Makueni, Kilifi, Kwale and Narok counties.
According to projections by the State Department of Agriculture, the country could face a deficit of food stocks, the maize shortfall by end of the month projected at 114,169 metric tonnes.
The country is expected to have in its stocks about 970,069 metric tons although this could be enhanced through imports by the government, the private sector or relief agencies.
Currently, agro-pastoral households hold the biggest amount of maize stock estimated at 1.8 million 90-kilogram bags, followed by coastal (425,150 bags), South East (214,350), Pastoral North East (18,960) and Pastoral North West (36,150).
In order to avert a crisis, the NDMA recommends scaling up of supplementary feeding in worst-hit areas as well as the provision of water and health services to curb breakouts of diseases such as cholera.