Nairobi — At least 3.5 Kenyans are facing starvation as a result of the biting drought in the Horn of Africa, Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD’s) Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu, has said.

According to the IGAD’s Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), the first month of the March to May 2022 season was particularly dry.

“The March, April May rains are crucial for the region and, sadly, we are looking at not just three, but potentially four consecutive failed seasons ” Gebeyehu, said Monday in a press briefing.

“This, coupled with other stress factors such as conflicts in both our region and Europe, the impact of COVID-19, and macro-economic challenges, has led to acute levels of food insecurity across the Greater Horn of Africa,” he added.

The Food Security and Nutrition Working Group, co-chaired by IGAD and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that over 29 million people are facing severe food insecurity across the IGAD region.

“Already, 15.5 to 16 million of our sisters and brothers are in need of immediate food assistance, due to the drought. This is 6 to 6.5 million in Ethiopia, 3.5 million in Kenya, and 6 million in Somalia. In the southern-central part of Somalia, the situation is catastrophic, with 81,000 people at risk of famine,” Gebeyehu stated.

ICPAC’s Director, Guleid Artan who also spoke, pointed out that “the severe shortages in water and pasture are leading to smaller food production, significant losses in livestock and wildlife, and a rise in resource-based conflict in the region.

He expressed concern that the situation could worsen in the coming months.

Alessandra Casazza, the Manager of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resilience Hub for Africa emphasized the need for emergency action and development to work hand in hand.

“Climate shocks keep coming back. We must invest in adaptation to build long term resilience across the region” she said.

Casazza renewed UNDP’s call for countries in the Global North “to honor their commitment to climate finance: 100 billion USD to help developing countries adjust to the climate emergency.”

To address the drought situation in Kenya, the government has said that close to 108,000 poor and vulnerable households in the drought prone areas in the country will continue receiving Sh5,400 every two months as regular cash transfers

The Government has promised to continue disbursing the monies to four arid counties as part of the measures to tackle severe drought among poor and vulnerable families.

Under the programme the targeted counties include Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera and Wajir.

Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programmes Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia said the Sh274 million monthly equivalent will be spent on provision of cash transfers to vulnerable households through the National Drought Management Authority’s Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP).

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