Four million people in Kenya need food assistance. PHOTO | FILE

Cash-strapped families have little to smile about this new year as countries in the region battle high commodity prices following weather-induced food supply deficits.

The East Africa seasonal monitor released on December 20 by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fews Net) — a USAID platform providing early warning and analysis on food insecurity — shows that rainfall deficits were recorded over much of Uganda, eastern Rwanda and Kenya, eroding crops and livestock production prospects.

Eastern Rwanda, which produces half of the country’s total grain, is experiencing drought.

Though Agriculture and Animal Resources minister Gerardine Mukeshimana downplayed the drought’s likely impact on the overall national food security, he indicated the government is distributing relief food to thousands of families across the Eastern Province.

It is estimated that drought led to wilting of over 50 percent of the maize, beans and other crops planted during the country’s major September-December agriculture season.

But it is Kenya which is most at risk, with Fews Net estimating that three to four million people are in need of emergency food assistance.

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