Jan 31, 2023

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Thousands face hunger amid biting drought

Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans are suffering from hunger in multiple districts and families without food as they watch their livestock die.

Last week the World Food Program (WFP) warned of hunger in the north Kenya may get worse as eight dry districts that have gone without rain since last year are said to be in dire situation.

“It is predictable that we will be at least 50 percent in crop yield for the current season of the five-year average,” said WFP Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Samuel Kiarie.

“Severe levels of food insecurity are likely to rise beyond the magnitude of emergencies and disasters if proactive intervention measures are not taken in place.”

WFP predicted that counties such as Lamu, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Turkana, Samburu, West Pokot, Baringo, Kajiado, Narok, Laikipia, Nyeri, Embu, Meru, Isiolo, Wajir , G Arissa and Mandera could slide into catastrophic food insecurity due to lack of rainfall.

Read: Elmi: My plans to reduce the impact of the drought in Wajir

About three million people reported experiencing starvation in February and March. Farmers are struggling with poor rainfall patterns that hit last year’s agricultural output and see the sector, which supports about a third of Kenya’s GDP, shrink by 0.1 percent, the lowest performance since 2017, the Kenya National Bureau said of Statistics (KNBS) in the 2022 Economic Survey.

KNBS reported that corn production fell 12.8% last year to 36.7 million bags, marking the lowest crop performance since 2017. As a result, the cost of Kenya’s staple ugali has soared this year, up 100%, with the price of cornmeal hitting a peak of Sh240 last month.

Read: State pays 1.1 billion to drought-affected families in 4 counties< /strong>

KNBS also attributed falling agricultural productivity to higher input costs as farmers spend more on purchasing of fertilizers, insecticides and other necessities. Some of them chose to use their land for other activities while others planted without the inputs.

The cost of importing chemical fertilizers increased by 37.7 percent from 37,167 Shh between 2018 and last year per tonne to Sh51,168 and insecticides by 3.1 per cent from Sh689,964 per tonne to Sh711,190. Farmers have complained about high input prices, with fertilizer prices rocketing to a peak of Sh6,000 per 50kg sack by April, before the government announced a subsidy that would bring the price down to Sh2,800.

< p >Read: Herders resort to feeding cacti to cows due to biting drought

“The government has allocated 5.7 billion shillings to to subsidize 2.28 million 50 kg bags of fertilizers for farmers growing food crops. Those amounts will support the management of 1.13 million acres,” Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said in April.

Agriculture sector performance has been declining, with the Commission on Revenue Allocation last year reporting these counties this indicated relies heavily on agriculture, which is performing poorly on revenue despite the national government continuing to tighten its budget.

In the 2022/23 budget, ATS 66.8 billion was allocated to the sector, which less than two is percent of the total budget.