The Government of Kenya has issued a drought alert for the arid and semi-arid areas as per the food security bulletin of July 2021(National Drought Management Authority).
Most Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs) received less than 50 percent of average rainfall while others in the northern east region receiving less than 25 percent of average amounts of rainfall during the month of June.
As of the end of June 2021, several ASAL counties were already experiencing moderate vegetation deficit with 11 reporting alert drought phase.
It is projected that the drought situation will worsen between July and November 2021, with negative consequences for household food security, crop and livestock production, access to water, the nutritional status of children, and local coping strategies.
Counties which fall under IPC phases within the Arid and Semi-Arid areas of Kenya are experiencing drought owing to the depressed short rains (OctNovDec) of 20202 and failed long rains (MarchAprilMay) in 2021. The effects of the prolonged dry season are already being felt by a significant proportion of the population in these areas.
The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), in their July 2021 bulletin notes that the top 12 drought-affected counties are Turkana- Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Baringo, Kilifi, Tana River, Kwale, Marsabit, Kitui, Kajiado and Isiolo. Already, more than 2 million people are facing starvation according to National Drought Management Authority (NDMA, July 2021), and there are cases of inter-communal resource-based conflicts caused by dwindling pasture, browse and water.
The prevalence of livestock diseases is currently higher than the expected average. The affected communities are slowly turning towards negative coping mechanisms that affect their livelihoods, health, and food security.
The potential impacts of drought include aggravating the food insecurity situation, decreased pasture for livestock and potential for resource-based conflicts. As availability of water resources for domestic, agricultural, and industrial use deplete, the general population faces increased adverse effects of the severe drought. Thousands of shoats (goats and sheep) have been reported to have died from the drought while the remaining one’s fount to have poor or wasted body conditions. Thousands of household’s others face starvation as the ongoing drought takes its toll.
The affected communities especially the men have migrated with their livestock in search of water, and this has increased the potential for conflicts which are already reported. Women, children, the elderly, and the disabled have been left behind in most areas to survive by their own.