On 10 February the Government of Kenya declared a national drought emergency, with 23 of the 47 counties affected. The severe drought in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) of Kenya is attributed to below average performance of the 2016 short and long rains. The conditions are likely to deteriorate if the next season fails. An estimated 2.7 million people are acutely food insecure; more than triple since February 2016 (640,000). Food prices are on a record high due to food shortages and export bans. Over 357,000 children; pregnant and lactating mothers are acutely malnourished. GAM rates above 30 per cent have been reported in Turkana North, Marsabit and Mandera; 6 Sub-Counties have GAM rates above the 15 per cent global emergency threshold. An estimated 175,000 children in 10 counties are out of school due to drought. Risks of domestic/sexual violence, child abuse and exploitation, and child labour have increased. Some 2.6 million people are in urgent need of safe clean water. More than 30 per cent of rural water points are non-functional resulting in a 5-fold increase in water prices, conflicts over livestock watering points, loss of livestock, and increased risk of malnutrition and infectious disease. A cholera response is underway in Tana River District.
While the Government has committed to funding nearly 48 per cent of the $208 National Drought Response Plan, there is need to scale-up the response. The Kenya Red Cross Society, through the IFRC has appealed for $9 million to assist 340,000 people for 12 months.