Meru County: Drought Early Warning Bulletin for March 2015

Situation Report
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Drought Situation & EW Phase Classification

Biophysical indicators declined sharply this month. Rainfall onset was late by more than a week. River volumes declined significantly in the Agro-pastoral livelihood forcing most households to rely on water vendors. Few strategic boreholes were functioning in this zone forcing livestock to concentrate around Elat and Kina-nduba springs. Vegetation conditions deteriorated sharply across all livelihood zones. Pastures in the grazing areas in the Agro-pastoral livelihood were poor both in quality and quantity.

Production indicators also registered notable declines. Livestock body conditions declined significantly with those in the Agro-pastoral livelihood ranging from fair to poor. Watering frequency also declined to two days from a normal of daily. Distances to grazing areas remained high. Foot and Mouth disease was still reported in this zone. Livestock from Isiolo and Laikipia Counties were still in the County and concentrated around Elat together with those from Igembe and parts of Tigania East. Others are concentrated around Kina-nduba springs. Conflicts have erupted at Elat towards the end of the month over grazing area and water and six local herders killed. Tension remains high with a possibility of retaliatory attacks. Livestock from parts of Tigania East, Tigania West and Buuri are still grazing around the Mt Kenya forest. Land preparation and planting were major activities. Lack of funds to procure seeds was the main challenge. Majority of farmers in the Agro-pastoral livelihood zone planted late citing lack of seed and the unreliability of MAM rains. Total acreage under food crops is much lower than other seasons.

Access indicators also declined with milk consumption declining further than last month. Distances to watering points for households still remained high. Nutrition status of children under five years worsened with those at risk increasing to 23 per cent from 20 per cent last month.

The County is currently at ‘ALARM phase’ with a worsening trend. There is an urgent need to activate the drought contingency planned activities especially those that are focusing on security, water, livestock health and human health (especially for the under-fives).