Drought in Kenya: A National Disaster

Friday, February 10, 2017

PRESS RELEASE: Kenyan Government declares the ongoing drought a National Disaster

  • 2.7 million people affected by the ongoing drought in 23 counties in Kenya.
  • People in need of relief assistance has risen from 1.3 million in August 2016 to 2.7 million in February, 2017.
  • The estimated number of children affected from the current drought, 14 years and below is 840,000.
  • Counties in alarm and alert has changed as the situation is worsening.

10th February 2017, Nairobi, Kenya – According to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA’s) January 2017 monthly issue, the number of people in need of relief assistance in Kenya has risen from 1.3 million in August 2016 to 2.7 million, following the below-average performance of the 2016 short rains. Many of those affected are the most vulnerable, including the elderly, the sick, mothers and children who are under the age of five. The numbers represent approximately 20 percent of the population in pastoral areas and 18 percent in marginal, agricultural areas.

“Open water sources such as water pans and rivers, have dried up and the pressure on permanent water sources such as boreholes, has increased. This has led to longer queues for water and the risk of breakdown of pumps. In nearly all the counties, distances to water sources are increasing,” said World Vision Kenya National Director, Dickens Thunde.

In Baringo County, household distances to water is now three times longer than usual, while in West Pokot County; the distances are now more than twice and five times in Kilifi County. According to NDMA findings for the just concluded short rains assessment of 2016 short rains in the month of January, the most affected sectors remain food, livestock and water. 

According to Mr. Thunde, the food security situation will continue to worsen over the next few months with the anticipated short rainy season, likely not to have any meaningful impact on livelihood recovery. For counties where both the long rains and the short rains are below normal, conditions are already very poor. Access to water in arid and semi-arid regions and in counties, is expected to deteriorate sharply, now that there are no further prospects of rainfall until March or April, 2017.

So far, the nine worst-hit counties are Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Isiolo, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir and Baringo, where World Vision works. The assessment of the findings above was conducted from 16th to 27th January, 2017 by the Kenya Food Security Steering Group, a multi-sectorial and multi-agency body, which brings together relevant government sectors; UN agencies and technically qualified NGOs, under the leadership of NDMA. The assessment report has also identified drought-affected pockets of non-ASAL counties such as Elgeyo Marakwet, Bomet, Kisumu, Busia, Kakamega, Homa Bay and parts of Central Kenya. In areas around Lake Victoria, parts of western and central region, significantly below normal rainfall, affected crop performance resulting in decline of crop yields.

Meanwhile, the latest additional information on the drought situation from World Vision Kenya Country Food Assistance Manager Kevin Mugenya, also indicates that counties previously in alarm stage have been affected by the drought situation, yet they are part of the large farming area that provides food to other regions in the country.

Widespread crop failure, has been reported in mainly rich, agricultural areas. The prospects for the short rains’ harvest in the semi-arid counties is very poor, given the below-average performance of the season and its early ending, at a critical stage of crop development. Crops are water-stressed in Kilifi where less than five percent of farmers attempted to plant.

In West Pokot, farmers did not plant beans, being the main crop grown during the short rains, due to the late onset of rain and early end to the short/or long rainy season. In Baringo and Isiolo, irrigated, crop production, has been affected by falling river levels. It is expected that migration patterns of both human and livestock, will deviate still further from the norm, carrying the risk of conflict for scarce resources (water and pasture) and the spread of livestock diseases.

“The most serious cases of conflict in the previous month resulting in death, displacement or the loss of livestock, were reported in Baringo, Isiolo, Kitui, Laikipia, Marsabit, Meru, Turkana and West Pokot counties. Tension remains high in Samburu and Tana River counties”, said Mr. Thunde.

Water stress, will continue to increase due to long distances to water sources for pasture, while milk production will fall even lower, leading to high malnutrition rates.

Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate, is above 20 percent in four counties - Turkana, Marsabit,Mandera and East Pokot in Baringo and West Pokot - and above 10 percent in an additional five counties - Samburu,Tana River, Garissa and Wajir. Thismeans that the health of children in the listed counties is at risk and needs serious attention. If left untreated over the next six months, the number of malnourished children will succumb to death.

About World Vision Kenya

World Vision is a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. World Vision began operations in Kenya in 1974 and currently has slightly over 800 development staff members working in 53 Area Development Programmes in 35 counties, countrywide. Through valued partnerships, we support communities to improve the well-being of children, especially the most vulnerable. Our aspiration is that all children will enjoy good health, be educated for life, are cared for and protected, and experience the love of God and their neighbours.

 World Vision Kenya response on current drought in Kenya

World Vision Kenya Area Programmes (APs) are located in 15 of the 23 counties in Kenya currently affected by the ongoing drought. We work with partners in assessing the situation to inform response, participate in joint meetings to develop a response plan. The plans are used to raise funds (including reprogramming development funds), in order to carry out an integrated response targeting the most vulnerable. We also work with targeted communities to establish the most vulnerable people that will include children, pregnant and lactating mothers, persons with disability, among others.

World Vision Kenya values people and is committed to saving lives and livelihood of disaster-affected communities. Emergency intervention protects people’s lives and livelihood, as well as enabling communities to live dignified lives, before and during an emergency. We are currently responding in 15 of the most hard hit counties (Turkana, Baringo, Marsabit, Isiolo, Makueni, Garissa, West Pokot, Kilifi, Samburu and Taita Taveta,Wajir,Narok,Kajiado,Kitui and Lamu).

In partnership with the National and County Government, World Food Programme and other development partners, World Vision's immediate response will prioritize:

  • Cash transfers for food
  • Rehabilitation of water sources and water trucking for domestic use and for livestock
  • School meal feeding programme to mitigate school drop-out
  • Support Ministry of Health to conduct nutrition surveillance and manage acute malnutrition 

Other Medium and Long-term Interventions

  • Creation of assets that increase people’s resilience to future food security shocks such as farm ponds
  • Promotion of relevant climate smart agriculture technologies to increase crop/livestock productivity 
  • Construction of water facilities for increased access to safe water
  • Strengthen county govern

World Vision Kenya is calling for increased support from the international community to respond to the humanitarian needs. We call for the international community to respond to needs of children who bear the brunt of the crisis.  


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For more information please contact;

World Vision Kenya

Communications Manager,

May Ondeng

Email: May_Ondeng@wvi.org

Cell: +254 712 267655


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