Kenya, FAO sign action plan to mitigate drought in arid counties

Kenya and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have signed a pact to help mitigate the effects of drought in a move that could deal body blow to food and nutrition security.

The partnership, through the Anticipatory Action and Response Plan for Pastoral and Agropastoral Communities in the arid and semi-arid counties is in response to drought alert sent out in June.

Samburu, Isiolo, Turkana, Garissa, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir and Tana River are the counties that will benefit from the deal.

Livelihood conditions have declined as a result of reduced access to pasture even as 56 per cent of the ASAL counties reported increased trekking distances to water sources for livestock and domestic use. This is expected to get worse in the coming months hence the need for urgent anticipatory action,” said Carla Mucavi, the FAO Representative to Kenya.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugine Wamalwa while welcoming the move called for urgent action and coordinated response from partners to arrest the situation.

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‘This call for anticipatory action will go a long way in building the resilience of the communities in the affected counties. Urgent action and a coordinated response is needed from donors and other concerned stakeholders before the situation deteriorates further,’ said CS Wamalwa.

The 2020 Short Rains Assessment established that the season had performed poorly. As of February 2021, about 1.4 million people in ASAL counties were already experiencing acute food insecurity.

This was aggravated by other factors including the COVID-19 pandemic, the desert locust invasion, food commodity price spikes, and livestock diseases.

Since then, the March-May long rains have also under-performed. The onset of the season was late and the amount of rainfall was below normal in most ASAL counties while its distribution in both space and time was poor.

An estimated two million people in ASAL counties are now in need of assistance and this number is likely to rise as the situation worsens. 

There is a severe deficit of vegetation in Isiolo County and in Lagdera sub-county of Garissa, while the rest of Garissa and Kilifi, Marsabit, Tana River, and Wajir counties report a moderate vegetation deficit.

The proportion of children at risk of malnutrition is already above average in Embu, Taita Taveta, Makueni, Narok, Kjiado, Meru, Nyeri counties. 

In addition, families are now forced to cover longer distances to access water for domestic and livestock use as sources have dried up.

Kenya’s drought response plan requires a total of Kes 9.4 billion for the period July – November out of which Kes 5.8 billion will go to food and safety net support and Kes 3.6 billion provide non-food interventions.

FAO is seeking a total of USD 15 million (Kes 1.5 billion) to cushion livestock assets and vulnerable pastoral households against the adverse effects of the drought, to support water interventions for increased access to water for livestock and domestic used to enhance access to food and nutrition.

This includes basic needs by farming households and to strengthen the institutional and technical capacity of National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) for effective implementation of the early warning mechanism.

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