The plight of drought-affected communities in Kenya is getting worse. The Kenya Red Cross says around two and a half million Kenyans are threatened with starvation following the failure of this year’s seasonal rains.
In the northern and eastern regions of the country, 80% of the livestock have died. Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, recently declared the drought a national disaster and vowed to stem the rising numbers of deaths from malnutrition. The Red Cross and local hospitals say 40 people – mostly children – have died from malnutrition and related illnesses since December.
Abbas Gullet is the secretary general of the Kenya Red Cross. He spoke to English to Africa’s Ruby Ofori about why the situation is getting worse.
“The needs have doubled up overnight, one could almost say. ... And it’s been due to the failure of the short rains, as I said before, but more importantly now, the situation is acute in that there’ve been hundreds of thousands of animals dying in the pastoralist communities, but also now that 30-plus lives, human lives, have been lost at the same time. So the situation has been worsened by the lack of adequate food and water and grass to feed the animals.”
Gullet said the Kenyan government estimates it will require 28 billion Kenya shillings or about $150 million to tackle the crisis. He said so far the government has “been able to put in 17 billion Kenya shillings themselves and are still looking for 11 billion Kenya shillings from international partners.”