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Drought in Kenya a catastrophe waiting to happen, warns UN

Drought in Kenya a catastrophe waiting to happen, warns UN


U.N. Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien called on Friday (March 3) for a coordinated international effort to help Kenya battle a severe drought that threatens to affect more than 4 million people.

Already some 1.3 million Kenyans are going short of food as a result of years of inadequate rainfall.

The drought has left pastoral farming communities unable to feed their livestock and often competing to sell animals off before they starve to death.

O’Brien was visiting Bondarero, where arid, scrubby outskirts were dotted with shrivelled cattle carcasses, as part of a tour of drought-afflicted parts of East Africa.

The third consecutive year of drought in the Horn of Africa is causing thirst and hunger, decimating livestock, destroying livelihoods, spreading disease and triggering large scale population movements.

Half of Kenya’s 47 counties are affected by drought and the Government has declared a national drought emergency. The food insecure population has more than doubled – in less than a year – and an estimated 350,000 children, pregnant women and new mothers are acutely malnourished, according to Relief Web.

The Kenyan Government has pledged US$99 million to support national drought response efforts and committed to enhancing regional cooperation. But the scale of the crisis is outpacing existing capacity. According to the United Nations, more than $2 billion is required for humanitarian assistance in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia in 2017.

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