The number of Kenyans threatened with starvation has increased by a third in the last five months the National Drought Management Authority has warned and the country faces a food crisis if action isn’t taken now.
The number of people needing emergency relief has risen from 2.1 million in August to 2.8 million by the end of December.
‘Short Rains’ Fail
The root cause of the crisis is the failure of the ‘short rains’, the rains that normally would fall in October, November and December, leading to crop failures in many parts of the country.
Farmers in parts of the Rift valley and eastern Kenya, for example, would usually rely on the short rains period to grow short term crops to be harvested in February and March to plug the short term food supply gap.
Maize Production Down 70 Percent
The Authority forecasts maize production to be 70 percent down from last year in some areas and agricultural production across Kenya to be 50 to 65 percent down.
The situation is expected to worsen in the coming months necessitating intervention to avert a crisis in the key foods sector.
Drought To Continue
The Meteorological Department predicts further periods of dry weather throughout January and has urged the Ministry of Interior and Coordination and aid agencies to take action to avert starvation, and at the very least food-price inflation, for many people in Kenya.
Meanwhile Kenya’s national media seems to be fixated on the many political machinations going on in the run-up to elections due in August, and the supposed threat from the Omicron variation of the Covid virus as crops fail, farm animals are dying and millions of Kenyans face the very real prospect of starving to death.