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World Food Programme warns of high levels of malnutrition in northern Kenya

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Brian Inganga/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Environmental activists and World Food Programme officials in Northern Kenya say extreme droughts caused by climate change have turned what used to be a "land of plenty" into one where people are struggling for food.

The river in Nakaria, near Kalokol, is a seasonal river, meaning it flows when it rains and dries up when it doesn't.

But frequent and longer dry spells have meant the river rarely ever flows anymore, and locals digging boreholes for water have to dig deeper, and through harder ground.

The region near Lake Turkana, the world's largest saltwater la ke, relies on this river.

But the increase in droughts has meant that the wells are struggling to serve t he growing population of nearly 100,000 people.

Speaking in Kalokol Town, local environmental activist Billy Kepu told U.K. broadcaster Sky News that the lack of water had led to "food crises".

World Food Programme Policy officer Gabriel Ekaale echoed Kepu's sentiments.

He said that where once cattle grazed on grass, now "you can see bare and empty ground, almost like those sheep are feeding on the soil."

"We believe that climate change is the driver of the many issues that we experience here," he said, adding "We are increasingly seeing the drought episodes escalating and increasing, and therefore households do not have enough of the supplies of milk and meat."

The droughts mean mothers like Alice Moni, who was visiting a regional health centre, cannot feed her child.

She says her baby is always hungry.

It's thought around 600,000 people in the county are in need of food or money, while around 60 percent do not eat properly.

The World Food Programme has warned of high levels of malnutrition.

Reporters say forecasts in the region have predicted further droughts, which could lead to a water crisis in the area.

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