More than 2.1 million people in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) of Kenya are severely food insecure, following two consecutive poor rainy seasons that have hampered crop production. This represents an increase of about 70 per cent since February 2021, when an estimated 1.4 million people (10 per cent of the population in ASAL counties) were classified in Crisis (IPC 3) or worse levels of food insecurity, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis. Limited access to food—aggravated by loss of income and closure of markets in some counties due to COVID-19—has left over 532,000 children under age 5 and 93,300 pregnant or lactating women in urgent need of treatment for acute malnutrition. Acute malnutrition has surpassed the emergency threshold in many areas, affecting between 15 per cent and 30 per cent of children in eight counties.*
Some 12 counties are on drought alert, according to the National Drought Management Authority. Pastoralists are having to walk longer distances in search of water, food and forage for their livestock, often leaving women, children and elderly people behind in their villages, according to a recent assessment carried out by the ASAL Humanitarian Network. Access to water is the most immediate concern, with 87 per cent of counties reporting above-average distances to water sources for households and 78 per cent reporting above-average distances to water for livestock. As a result, tensions among communities have risen and an increase in inter-communal conflict has been reported, according to the ASAL Humanitarian Network assessment.
Most ASAL areas have reported disease outbreaks, including due to reduced availability of safe water sources and lack of access to improved sanitation and hygiene services. Upper respiratory tract infections increased across all drought-affected areas and malaria is rising in Turkana and Samburu counties.
Since 23 May 2021, at least 36 suspected cases of cholera have been reported in Garissa (Dadaab Refugee Camp) and Turkana counties, according to WHO, in addition to active outbreaks of measles in endemic areas of West Pokot and Garissa, and a new flare-up of kala-azar in Wajir since January 2021. Upper respiratory tract infections has steadily increased across all drought-affected areas since January and malaria is rising in Turkana and Samburu counties.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.