See also:
» 19.01.2011 - Kenya drought could create 5 million needy
» 09.03.2010 - Kenya farmers get low-tech micro-insurance
» 11.02.2010 - Kenya ferries park herbivores to feed starving lions
» 30.09.2009 - IFAD signs additional funding to fight poverty in Kenya
» 11.09.2009 - Kenya preparing for impact of possible torrential rains
» 26.08.2009 - Bringing technology and agronomic knowledge to African farmers
» 25.08.2009 - WFP appeals for urgent assistance for Kenya
» 20.08.2009 - Kenya launches poverty drive projects

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Agriculture - Nutrition

Rains failed in much of Kenya

afrol News, 8 June - Rains have failed in Kenya's most drought-prone areas, raising the risks of heavy food deficits. While the coastal area of Kenya faces its fourth poor agricultural season in a row, also neighbouring regions are affected, such as eastern Kenya, northern Tanzania, southern Uganda and Somalia.

The drought-prone areas of Coast and Eastern Provinces and the southern Maasai rangelands are among the worst affected as the May rains have failed in much of Kenya, according to the US agency Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS). If things do not improve, this will be the fourth poor season in a row for Kenya's coastal districts, continuing a streak that began with the long-rains of 2003, the agency adds.

The initial reduction in May rainfall was a respite from the torrential April rainfall, and was particularly welcome in Western Kenya and the flooded areas around Lake Victoria. "However, as the dry spell extended throughout the whole month of May it has become increasingly detrimental to both crop and livestock production prospects," reported FEWS.

According to the latest numbers from the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, around 20 percent of expected national crop output is at risk currently. A "significant national deficit" might emerge during the July-October period, the Ministry's projections suggest.

This situation was now "raising serious concerns" about food security in wide areas of Kenya, the US agency FEWS said. "Serious food shortages" have been going on for months and continued in the north-western Turkana District, were a total of 181,000 people are estimated to need emergency food assistance.

- To make matters worse in Turkana District, an estimated 20,000 pastoralists returned prematurely from Uganda following severe raids, FEWS said. "An estimated 5,000 herd of livestock were lost in the raids, rendering some of these pastoralists destitute," the agency added.

The May rainfall deficits are expected to add to the problems, creating pasture and water supply problems in several pastoral districts. The Arid Lands and Resource Management Project (ALRMP) has reported that pastoralists residing in the worst affected areas have begun moving to dry season grazing areas at least one month earlier than usual. "While the vegetation is still fair in most of these districts, availability of water is already problematic," ALRMP said.

Should the rains fail to resume, FEWS warns that "the long-rains season will have ended one and a half months earlier-than-usual, forestalling the recovery process in the eastern pastoral districts and worsening the existing food security crisis in the northern pastoral districts."

- An estimated 1.34 million persons in the pastoral agro-pastoral and marginal agricultural areas will likely become highly food insecure, the US agency has calculated. Many of these are currently moderately food insecure. "This population will require 100,000 metric tonnes of food commodities for six months," according to FEWS.

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