Between 15.5 million and 16 million people in the Horn of Africa are in need of immediate food assistance.
Igad Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu on Monday said those in need are 6-6.5 million in Ethiopia, 3.5 million in Kenya and six million in Somalia.
The number in Kenya has increased by 400,000 from February due to the ongoing drought. This is set to increase as the rains are expected to fail for the fourth consecutive season, plunging the country into a food crisis.
Some 23 counties in Kenya are now on the alarming stage and are in dire need of relief food.
Of the 3,5 million, are 350, 000 children under five years who are facing severe starvation, while 50,000 lactating mothers are malnourished.
Cattle are also affected and up to date, 1.5 million animals have died and an offtake of 13 million other is urgently needed.
In Africa, Gebeyehu said approximately 29 million people are staring at food insecurity as he urged the international donors to intervene.
Gebeyehu said long rains have delayed in Kenya, which means the situation will worsen.
“During this period, farmers are expected to prepare their land as the seasonal rainfall highly impacts the agricultural sector and hence food security in the country,” he said.
The crisis compelled the government to declare the drought a national disaster before mobilising state agencies to respond to the drought.
Counties reeling from the effects of drought include Kwale, Lamu, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Turkana, Samburu, and West Pokot. Others are Baringo, Kajiado, Narok, Laikipia, Nyeri, Embu, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Makueni, Kitui, Marsabit, Isiolo, Wajir, Garissa and Mandera.
There is a very real risk of a 4th consecutive failed rain season in #EasternAfrica.
Today, @igadsecretariat & @UNDP underlined the dire situation in #Ethiopia #Kenya & #Somalia where more than 15 million people are already affected by drought &need immediate #food assistance. pic.twitter.com/ypXQF7IG7h
— UNDP Africa (@UNDPAfrica) April 11, 2022
The forecast for the March-April-May 2022 long rains season by the Kenya Meteorological Department showed that enhanced rainfall was expected, with a 35 per cent probability, over the Highlands West of the Rift Valley, the Lake Victoria Basin, Central and South Rift Valley.
And even as the drought situation continues to worsen, over Sh100 million worth of relief food has been sent to drought-stricken areas.
The food donations are a result of contributions from the government in partnership with private sector players, including various media organisations.
Public service and Gender CS Margaret Kobia said that over 20,000 households in Marsabit would be beneficiaries of this aid.
“Due to the delayed rains, it is projected that over three million Kenyans in over 23 drought-stricken counties will be affected,” CS Kobia said.