Various reports have recently appeared in sections of the print and electronic media regarding the drought and food insecurity situation in some parts of the country. The media coverage seems to create an impression that relevant Government Departments are unaware of what is happening and are therefore not responding to the situation appropriately. The Government wishes to set the record straight as regards the situation and the interventions being undertaken.
The Government is fully aware of the drought and food security situation in all parts of the country. The Government, through the Arid Lands Resource Management Project (ALRMP), operates a Drought Early Warning System covering all arid districts and some semi-arid districts. The system provides monthly information on drought status of each district in terms of Normal, Alert, Alarm and Emergency through monthly Drought Early Warning Bulletins.
The current bulletins indicate that the situation has worsened in nearly all the arid districts and in some semi-arid districts. However, the drought status is currently still at 'Alarm stage' and can reach emergency stage if the short rains 2008 fail or do not begin at the right time. The situation has not reached the drought peak observed in late 2005 and early 2006. The bulletins are widely distributed, in hard and soft copies, to all stakeholders interested in food security and drought management in Kenya. They are also posted, on monthly basis, in the ALRMP's website (www.aridland.go.ke).
In addition to the information obtained from the early warning system, the Government, jointly with other stakeholders such as UN, Development Partners and NGOs conducts comprehensive food security bi-annual assessments, after the end of long and short rains seasons. The objective of these assessments is to determine actual food security situation at household levels and the necessary interventions.
The most recent assessment (Long Rains Assessment) was conducted between July and August 2008 and a report was produced thereafter. The report has since been circulated widely, including being posted in some websites such as the Kenya Food Security Meeting website (www.kenyafoodsecurity.org).
Furthermore, the Government issued a press release on 16th of September 2008, on the food security situation in the country and the measures that were being undertaken. During the press release, the media were invited and briefed on the situation and the actions the Government was undertaking to mitigate the effects of drought.
Current food security situation
The information obtained from the already mentioned sources among others indicate that the drought situation has worsened and food security situation has deteriorated in most of the arid areas and in some-semi-arid areas as aresult of the generally poor long rains this year.
The most affected areas include Turkana, Mandera, Samburu, Baringo, Marsabit, Wajir, Moyale and Garissa districts. Equally affected are the districts of Isiolo, Laikipia, Ijara, Taita Taveta, Kitui, Mwingi, Makueni, Mbeere, Malindi, Kilifi, Kwale, and Tana River districts.