Access to water, pasture to decline in ASAL counties

National Drought Management Authority’s (NDMA) vegetation index as at January 29 classified the drought phase in Isiolo, Garissa, Kajiado, and Tana River counties as alarming with six counties listed under the alert category.
According to the index published last month, of 23 ASAL counties, there were only 13 listed in the normal phase marking a slight improvement from November which only had 12 counties classified as normal.
The ASAL counties account for the lion’s share of the 3.9 million people projected to face food insecurity this year, covering eighty-nine percent of the country’s landmass and thirty-six per cent of the nation’s population.
READ: Half a million more Kenyans to face food insecurity in 2018 They are also home to 90 per cent of wildlife and 70 per cent of Kenya’s livestock population.
“Poor crop harvest will be expected in most of the marginal agricultural counties due to a combination of poor rainfall performance and the fall armyworm infestation,” read the NDMA report.
In Tharaka and Meru North fair crop performance is expected to lead to harvest which will “replenish household stocks, lessen market dependence, and improve incomes.” Among reasons cited for the dismal performance in crop generation is the poor distribution of rain in December exposing most ASAL areas to sunny and dry conditions.
Apart from poor crop performance, human-wildlife conflicts have also contributed to food insecurity, especially in Baringo, Laikipia, and Taita Taveta counties.
There was, however, a significant improvement in the average distances travelled to access water for both households and livestock, according to the NDMA index.
“The average distances to water for both households and livestock generally reduced compared to the previous month as a result of pasture regeneration and recharge of open water sources in nearly all the ASAL counties.” Water scarcity was however reported in some areas within Isiolo, Wajir, Kajiado, Marsabit, Garissa, Kitui, Narok, Mandera, Samburu and Meru counties which received depressed rainfall in December.
“The situation is likely to worsen given that most of the open water sources are expected to dry up by end of January 2018,” NDMA warned.

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