Context and Needs
The Government of Kenya declared drought as a national disaster on September 8, 2021.The food security situation has been on a worsening trend in the Arid and Semi-Arid (ASAL) counties in Kenya attributed mainly to the poor performance of the October-December 2020 short rains and the March-May 2021 long rains. Both seasons were characterized by late onsets, below average cumulative quantities, and poor distribution both in time and space. The latest National Drought Early Warning Bulletin reports twelve counties1 namely Marsabit, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Kilifi, Tana River, Makueni, Lamu, Samburu, Kitui, Isiolo and Laikipia are in the alert drought phase as of July 2021. The OCHA humanitarian snap shot for August reports more than 2.1 million people in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands2 (ASAL) of Kenya are severely food insecure, following two consecutive poor rainy seasons that have hampered crop production. In addition, the Kenyan Meteorological Department projected third consecutive poor rainy season (October – December - short rains) will result in below-average harvests and worsening livestock conditions in northern and eastern Kenya.
As the situation further deteriorates, the President of the Republic of Kenya declared the drought as a national disaster on Wednesday, 08 September 2021. It’s reported that the National Treasury and the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government have been instructed to spearhead Government efforts to assist the affected households including water and relief food distribution as well as livestock uptake. The UN in September 2021 issued a Flash Appeal of US$ 139.5 million targeting 1.27 million drought stricken populations3 .
Resilience is significantly weakened through damage to household economies and health as people are forced to engage in negative coping strategies to overcome acute food insecurity. In addition to the poor performance of the rainy season, other drivers of acute food insecurity include the recurrent droughts, COVID-19 pandemic and related effects, conflict and insecurity, and the recent Desert Locust invasion, all of which drive up the staple foods and livestock prices.