A new survey has indicated that the number of people facing acute food insecurity stands at 1.4 million, an increase from 739,000 reported during the 2020 Long Rains Assessment (LRA).
Report further indicates that those who need immediate humanitarian assistance in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) has increased by 90 per cent over the last 12 months.
According to the 2020 Short Rains Assessment report by Kenya Food Security Steering Group, out of 1.4 million facing food shortages, an estimated 238,000 people are in the emergency phase across eight counties of Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Marsabit, Samburu, Turkana and Isiolo.
Pastoralist counties like Turkana and Isiolo had the highest increase where the population in need almost doubled.
Increase has been attributed to below normal performance of the October to December short rains that negatively impacted on an already fragile food security situation in the ASALs.
National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) reckons the situation is expected to further deteriorate during the March – May long rains season with an estimated two million people likely to experience acute food insecurity.
Survey further indicates that Lamu, Kwale and Kilifi in the coastal marginal agriculture zones had the highest increase of people in the Integrated Phase Classification 3 used for analysis recording, also posted double the numbers that had been established under this category during the Long Rrains Assessment in August 2020.
Other counties including Makueni, Kitui, Tharaka Nithi, Meru (Meru North), which had minimal people in need of immediate humanitarian assistance during the LRA, have equally recorded significant numbers during the current assessment.
NDMA warns that with the performance of the 2021 long-rains season (March-May) forecasted to be poor, this situation will most likely worsen and these numbers may increase towards August.
According to the report, the pastoral counties experienced deterioration in food security situation owing to lingering impact of the desert locust and Covid-19 control measures alongside below average short rains.