Over 38,517 people are affected by drought and need relief food in Tharaka Nithi County.
According to an assessment by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), the drought status in the county has been brought about by poor rainfall performance, leading to the loss of two cropping seasons and ranking the county at Alert Phase.
According to NDMA County Coordinator Kiragu Kariuki, vegetation levels are below average. They have been recorded at 33.1 % compared to the usual 35%, indicating deterioration that could hit lows of up to 25%.
“Families do not have enough food supplies for consumption at household levels, and they have to depend on market supplies for food commodities and household assets whose prices are up,” he said.
Kiragu observed that most water sources, main rivers, were flowing below expected base flows, with many households getting rationed or having to walk long distances in search of water.
County Commissioner Norbert Komora, while commenting on the drought crisis after leading the County Steering Group Committee meeting on drought management, said the national government and other stakeholders would come up with timely measures to avert the dangers that interfered with food security in the county.
Komora assured that the committee would come up with measures to address the drought by providing relief food and cash transfers, saying no single life would be lost due to hunger.
The County Commissioner warned members of the public involved in closing off sections of rivers for irrigation and other purposes, saying action would be taken against such individuals.
“The government’s stand is that no one is allowed to close off a section of a river to the detriment of those downstream. I ask those upstream to open up the flow and anyone found guilty of closing off a river will have action taken against them by relevant authorities”, he said.
Red Cross County Coordinator Jerusha Nyaga noted that they had already conducted an emergency response program in Tharaka North.
523 beneficiaries have received KShs 5,747 each in cash transfers in the program, expected to go up to October.
150 beneficiaries received rice, beans, cooking oil, and salt.
The Red Cross team has also conducted assessments and referrals for persons with disabilities to ensure they received assistive devices in this stressed face of hunger.
The County Nutrition Coordinator Dennis Mbae reported that malnutrition for children under the age of 5 was at 32.9 % in the county, with an upsurge in cases of malnutrition witnessed in areas such as Tharaka, Ganga and Mwimbi.
Njagi advised a member of the public to embrace the uptake of drought-tolerant foods such as Cassava and advocated for vegetable gardens and high-nutrient foods.
The most affected wards include Chiakariga, Gatunga, Marimanti, Mukothima and Nkondi.
In the country, over 4.1 million people are facing food insecurity, with a risk of starvation if urgent measures are not taken to alleviate the situation.
According to NDMA, Kenya is facing unprecedented prolonged and severe drought occasioned by failed rainfall.
25 counties are facing acute food shortages, while 15 are in the crisis stage.