As drought continues to worsen in 20 of 23 ASAL (Arid and Semi-Arid Land) counties in Kenya, children and pregnant women are the most at risk of acute malnutrition.
Worsening food security situation in most of the households has resulted in acute malnutrition rates across the counties. According to NDMA (National Drought Management Authority) statistics, As of the month of September 2022, 942,000 cases of children aged 6-59 months and 134,000 cases of pregnant or lactating women are acutely malnourished and in need of treatment.
Numbers of children and pregnant or lactating women with acute malnutrition have greatly increased within a month with an increase of 57,536 and 18,275 respectively.
Ten counties including Isiolo, Mandera, Samburu, Kajiado, Tharaka Nithi, Turkana, Wajir, Laikipia, Tana River and Marsabit are in Alarm situation of severe drought situations, while Ten counties which consist of Embu, Garissa, Kitui, Makueni, Meru, Narok, Nyeri, Taita Taveta, Kwale and Kilifi are in Alert drought phase. The remaining three counties including Baringo, West Pokot and Lamu are in Normal drought phase.
Kenya is currently in the throngs of an unprecedented drought particularly in the ASAL counties, following four consecutive seasons of poor rains.
Distance to water from the households is far, making it harder for these households to have access to water, children will suffer the most as they will have to help in fetching the water, walking long distance on hot surface in searching for water.
Children will also be at risk of child marriage, dropping out of school, Insecurities and many more.
Nonetheless NDMA has recommended a number of things to be considered in helping the 20 ASAL counties.
Food and safety nets
There is a need of provision of food assistance and scaling up of cash transfers targeting households which are currently food insecure as a result of the prevailing drought stress.
There should be provision of livestock feeds and supplements and also treatment and vaccination against emerging livestock diseases.
The water sector can be revived by supporting water trucking interventions, rehabilitation and maintenance of water facilities, provision of fuel subsidies to motorized boreholes and Procurement and distribution of water storage tanks.
Health and nutrition sector
There is need to support on hygiene and sanitation promotions, provisions for severe acute malnutrition – Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) and Supplies for moderate acute malnutrition – Ready to Use Supplementary Food (RUSF).
We need to enhance hygiene promotion in learning institutions and provision of food to subsidize school fees in boarding secondary schools.
Peace and security sector
By Facilitating intra and inter communities peace dialogues and resource use agreements and promoting coordination of peace and security activities in conflict prone counties.
We will manage this by supporting County Steering Groups (CSGs) to effectively coordinate drought response activities