Most ASAL counties experienced generally sunny and dry weather conditions during the month of September which led to reduced pastures for livestock and an increase in the average return distance to water sources for both livestock and domestic use.
During the month under review, the number of counties in the alarm drought phase increased to eight from six in August. An additional seven counties are currently at the alert drought stage. Counties classified in the alarm drought phase include: Wajir, Mandera, Garissa, Marsabit, Isiolo, Kitui, Embu (Mbeere) and Tharaka Nithi (Tharaka).
Majority of the ASAL counties reported fair to poor body condition for cattle and good to fair condition for goats while at the same time a reduction in milk production in September in comparison to August 2019 was observed with milk production in nearly 70 percent of the ASAL counties remaining below the long term average production level.
The decline in milk production was attributed to decrease in pasture and browse availability coupled with longer than average trekking distances from grazing areas to water sources.
1.1 Drought indicators
Generally sunny and dry weather conditions prevailed over most ASAL counties during the month of September 2019, which is normal at this time of the year. However, unusual off season rains were received in a few counties such as Baringo, Laikipia, West Pokot, Taita Taveta and Lamu during the month.
Figure 1 compares the vegetation condition index (VCI) in September 2019 with that in August 2019. The map shows that as result of the off-season rainfall received in late August and early September the condition of vegetation in most ASAL counties has improved compared to last month. However, in a few counties the drought situation has persisted, particularly in Samburu (Samburu East), Isiolo (Isiolo North) and Tharaka Nithi (Tharaka), Marsabit, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo, Tana River and Kitui, Mandera (Banissa and Mandera North), Meru (Igembe Central, Igembe North and Igembe South) and Makueni (Kibwezi East).
According to the detailed VCI data as at 30th September 2019 contained in Annex 1 most counties are currently classified in the above-normal and normal vegetation greenness category with only about 40 percent of the counties at present experiencing either severe or moderate vegetation deficit.
Severe vegetation deficit: Currently, no county is classified in the severe vegetation deficit band. However, the following three counties have some of their sub-counties in the severe vegetation deficit category; Samburu (Samburu East), Isiolo (Isiolo North) and Tharaka Nithi (Tharaka) Moderate vegetation deficit: Counties in the moderate vegetation deficit class are; Marsabit, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo, Tana River and Kitui. Counties with either above-normal or normal vegetation greenness which have some of their sub-counties in the moderate vegetation deficit band include; Mandera (Banissa and Mandera North), Meru (Igembe Central, Igembe North and Igembe South) and Makueni (Kibwezi East)