The Devolution ministry has warned of widespread crop failure, water scarcity, loss of livestock and malnutrition if the ongoing drought persists.
The latest update by Devolution, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands CS Eugene Wamalwa says at least 1.1 million people are urgently in need of food aid in 13 drought-stricken counties.
Turkana, Mandera, Marsabit, Garissa, Baringo, Kilifi, Tana River, West Pokot, Isiolo, Wajir, Samburu, Kwale and Makueni are most vulnerable.
“If the long rains continue to delay, the situation will worsen and result in widespread crop failure, water scarcity and inadequate pasture, loss of livestock and livelihoods, malnutrition, disease outbreaks and lack of safe or portable water. As a result, the number of people in need of relief will increase,” Mr Wamalwa said on Wednesday.
To mitigate the crisis, the government has so far provided Sh1.8 billion. Of this money, Sh602 million went to relief food with the CS saying 26,200 bags had been distributed to the worst hit regions.
Some Sh680 million was released to the Water ministry for the supply of water using trucks and the construction of boreholes.
A World Bank report published on Tuesday indicated that the country’s economic growth would be significantly slowed down in the wake of the drought.
Kenyan consumers are already feeling the pressure with milk prices having risen by Sh5 in most supermarkets and retail outlets due to a supply shortage.
Farmers in grain growing regions, including the North Rift, western, Coast and parts of Nyanza, are already staring at reduced harvests due to a delay in the planting season occasioned by the lack of rain.
The rest of the pastoral and marginal agricultural areas “received less than 90 per cent of normal rain”, the national drought management agency said, bringing about livestock diseases.
Failed rains will not only affect the country’s food security but will also have-far reaching effects on the economy.
Agriculture is a major driver of growth for the economy with at least 56 per cent of the total labour force employed in the sector in 2017.
Agriculture is also responsible for most of the country’s exports, accounting for up to 65 per cent of exports in 2017.
The latest World Bank report has projected a slowdown in Kenya’s economic growth, which is expected to peak at 5.7 per cent.