President Kenyatta Declares Drought a National Disaster

September 9, 2021

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday, 8th September 2021, declared the drought affecting parts of the country a national disaster.

Consequently, the President instructed The National Treasury and the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government to spearhead Government efforts to assist affected households including water and relief food distribution as well as livestock uptake.

The decision follows yesterday’s meeting between the Head of State and 85 leaders from Kenya’s Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASAL) led by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani.

More details of the Government’s comprehensive drought mitigation measures will be unveiled in due course.

This comes after the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) outlined an emergency action plan to mitigate the situation.

IFRC said scanty rainfall during October-December 2020 and March-May 2021 led to prevailing drought conditions.

In June 2021, most arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) areas received less than 50 per cent of the average rainfall, causing a decline in the health of vegetation compared to the preceding month. Those in the northeastern region received less than 25 per cent of average precipitation that month.

According to IFRC, the drought situation is expected to last till September in the ASAL counties.

Deteriorating conditions of vegetation, increased distances to water sources, worsening livestock conditions, reduced milk production and increased number of children at risk of malnutrition were observed in an August 2 report.

Household food access will remain constrained as staples will be dearer than average, IFRC projected.

“As a result, critical nutrition outcomes will persist in children under five years of age.”

Reduced daily meals, eating food low in nutrition and sale of more livestock than usual will become coping strategies for these families, according to the report.

Rainfall from October to December this year will determine whether the condition in the affected countries will improve, said IFRC.

Early projections for the period indicate that the country is likely to experience La Nina conditions, which are associated with low precipitation in East Africa.

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