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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Looming crisis: Frontier Counties food shortage to deepen by May

By Nicanor Ndiege

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Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET); a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity has issued an alert over impending food crisis that is most likely to hit counties in both the Northern and Eastern parts of the Country.

According to the network, Mandera, Marsabit, Wajir, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Kitui and Makueni counties are likely to face a food crisis from now until May.

In January, more than 18 counties, mainly in Northern Kenya and coastal regions, were in the “stressed phase” of food insecurity, it said.

They include Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Isiolo, Wajir, Mandera, Taita Taveta, Garissa, Tharaka Nithi, Kitui, Embu, Tana River, Makueni, Kajiado, Narok, Lamu, Kilifi and Kwale.

The report released this week showed that the problem has intensified to crisis proportions in some areas.

According to TEWS NET, poor urban households in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa continue to face a food crisis.

The report said the problem is driven by constrained access to labor and reduced income from Covid-19 restrictions. These include the 10pm to 4am curfew, reduced business operating ho9urs and higher food prices.

“Urban poor households are engaging in crisis-coping strategies such as reducing non-food expenses like healthcare and selling assets such as sewing machines, wheelbarrows and bicycles to meet their minimum food needs,” the report read.

In the marginal agricultural areas, food crops such as maize, beans, millet, sorghum, green grams and cowpeas are in the knee-high to tasseling and pod filling stages. But they exhibit moisture stress because of below average short rains.

The food security report showed decreased livestock productivity due to a decline in forage and water resources. This has led to atypical migration to dryland grazing areas, and conflict over pasture and water sources.

“Milk production is below average except in Isiolo, Marsabit, and Garissa counties. Households rely on income from still-above-average livestock prices. However, more people are expected to face a food crisis,” the report read.

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