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Drought and pandemic, lethal mix on Kenya coast

400 hundred thousand people risk to die

07-09-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo

Climate change and pandemic, a lethal mix that has created 400 thousand new hungry people on the Kenyan coast. And when we say "hungry" we mean, at least as reported by the institutions of four counties overlooking the Indian Ocean, namely Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River and Lamu, elderly people who are at serious risk of physical exhaustion, children who may suffer from chronic diseases from malnutrition and adults who live below the threshold of survival, for themselves and their families.
This is the grim scenario in areas where to a large extent the lack of tourism resulting from pandemic restrictions has also played its part. 
But the main problem, in this period, is drought.
After the poor effects of the rainy season that brought 23 counties out of 47, practically half the country, to their knees, agriculture and livestock, which are the main resources, if not the only ones, for millions of Kenyans are starting to suffer in a vital way.
For this reason, the Council of Ministers will meet today to discuss urgent measures to be taken towards those most affected by the consequences of the drought.
The Coastal Food Security Task Force has already estimated that Lamu County alone needs at least 100 million dollars to cope with the situation and avoid first the death of thousands of livestock and then the severe suffering of pastoralists and farmers.
Poverty in those areas can also bring to the news the feuds and killings for access to water from the rivers that already inflamed the region between the Tana River and Somalia a few years ago. 
Meanwhile, many schools in Tana River County have already been closed due to lack of water, and aid organizations predict a dire situation if urgent action is not taken. In other school facilities, there is a shortage of teachers who are themselves struggling to find water, just like much of the population. 
Agriculture Minister Peter Munya announced that the government is considering special measures to help the herders, such as the purchase of livestock and sums of money."
"The government, through the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee (NDICC), will present a social safety net plan for herders," Munya said, "The state will buy livestock from people in drought-affected areas so that they can cope with the loss of livestock they own.
According to the Kenyan Red Cross, Kilifi County is the most worrisome in terms of the number of people at risk of humanitarian famine, followed by Kwale, Tana River and Lamu.
"We have more than 145,000 people in extreme need of water and food in Kilifi and about 130,000 in Kwale, while 78,000 people are in Tana River. 21,000 people living in Lamu are facing the same situation," Kenya Coast Red Cross Coordinator Hassan Musa revealed to Daily Nation newspaper.
In the Bamba area, already infamous in the hinterland of Kilifi, a woman literally died of starvation last week. In that area in this period is not easy to find even fruit on the trees. A few months ago an entire family was poisoned trying to alleviate the pangs of hunger by eating wild berries.
According to statistics from the national organization, at least 2,000 children under the age of five in Tana River County suffer from rickets from malnutrition. Without water, food aid also has less effect, as many do not have enough resources to cook their own maize flour or rice. 

 

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