Drought in Kenya – fighting hunger, water shortages and conflict

susza w Kenii

Kenya’s ongoing five-season drought is causing a humanitarian disaster of catastrophic proportions. According to estimates, up to 6.4 million citizens are threatened by hunger, drinking water shortages and the resulting social conflicts. This is the most severe crisis in more than 10 years and the most severe drought in 40. External aid is still insufficient to meet the basic needs of Kenyans.

Drought in Kenya – facts

Weather extremes in the Horn of Africa are not uncommon. Periods of devastating rainfall deprivation were recorded in 2010-2011 and 2016-2017. Starting in 2019. However, the drought is experiencing Kenya in an unprecedented way – five consecutive rainy seasons have failed to bring the expected relief. The situation is also difficult in Ethiopia and Somalia.

Kenya’s cyclical drought is due to the predominance of arid and semi-arid areas, which are particularly vulnerable to rainfall deficiency and climate shock. The rainy season in most regions of the country lasts from March to June and creates conditions for sowing the most important crops: corn and beans. If the rains fail, yields are much lower – in 2022. amounted to just two-thirds of 2018 production.

In 2023. The precipitation did come, but under the influence of a tropical cyclone that developed on the northern coast of Australia, it was unusually violent. Instead of relieving exhausted Kenyans, they have caused floods, avalanches, fatal accidents and transportation disruptions, as well as a greater risk of developing cholera outbreaks. In addition, global precipitation was once again below average, and already in June there was a drought with temperatures higher than average for the period.

Scarcity of food

Kenya’s drought is primarily a critical food shortage. Herders reported a loss of 2.6 millionhead of cattle, which translated into a reduction in the supply of milk and meat. Milk consumption among children, women and the elderly has declined dramatically, and according to analysis, nearly 678,000 will experience extreme malnutrition later this year. Children and 139 thousand. pregnant women.

Lower rainfall has reduced land preparation and seeding, resulting in lower crop yields and farmers’ earnings. Thus, their ability to invest in seeds for future seasons decreased, and some were forced to engage in petty trading to ensure their families’ survival. Kenya’s drought is causing food prices to rise steadily, both as a result of the weather disaster and high gasoline prices.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The 2023 Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Authority (OCHA). 5.4 million people will experience serious problems with access to food.

Further consequences of the drought

Hunger is not the only problem. Drought in Kenya in 2022. It has led to the drying up of 95 percent. communal reservoirs. According to the National Flood Management Agency, people have to travel 8.6-17.6 kilometers a day to reach a water source. These long treks are a particular threat to girls and women, who are increasingly victims of sexual aggression. Families are increasingly running out of water for washing and cooking.

Kenya’s persistent drought also has widespread and long-lasting social consequences. Children are dropping out of school because families need their help to transport water. The death rate of pregnant and birthing women, who are expected to bring their own water for delivery, is also rising. Deterioration of water quality also provokes the spread of diseases, such as cholera. There is even talk of dramatic situations in which women engage in transactional sexual relations to get water for their families. Violent conflictsarise between communities, resulting in thievery, injuries and even deaths. There have been quite a few terrorist incidents in the east of the country, and banditry is rampant in the west.

Kenya’s drought needs international support

In the first six months of this year, humanitarian organizations managed to reach 1.7 million people in need, according to a report prepared by OCHA. About one million people received food aid, 279,000. medical assistance was provided, and 310,000. received support for access to water and hygiene products. The Red Cross and 81 other NGOs and UN-operated organizations are actively involved.

Kenya’s drought requires $452 million in funding, according to the latest estimates. So far, only 33 percent has been raised. – The largest aid, worth more than $100 million, has been offered by the United States. The spheres of shelter (0 percent of needs), education (3 percent) and health care (7 percent) remain the most underfunded.

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