NAIROBI, The Kenyan government needs 11.4 billion shillings (about 110 million US dollars) for the second stage of its drought mitigation efforts to be carried out from now until April as the number of people needing relief assistance has doubled from 1.3 million in August 2016 to close to 3.0 million currently.

A total of 300,000 of these people are in non-ASAL (Arid and Semi-Arid Lands) areas and represents about 20 per cent of the population in pastoral areas and 18 per cent of the population in marginal agricultural areas. The worst affected are the elderly, the sick, children under five years and mothers, says Statehouse Spokesman Manoah Esipisu.

The nutrition situation is extremely critical with acute malnutrition levels of above 30 per cent being reported in the counties of Turkana, Turkana North, Mandera, Marsabit and North Horr, he told a weekly media briefing here Sunday. In addition, critical levels of malnutrition have been recorded in Baringo East, Isiolo, and the rest of Turkana counties.

Esipisu said the government had allocated 5.4 billion shillings in the first stage of drought mitigation interventions covering the period from November 2016 to January 2017. For [hase two, an additional 11.4 billion shillings arerequired and for phase three between April-August another 7.1 billion shillings will be required.

“Towards this total amount, the government has allocated 7.3 billion shillings already and that leaves a gap of 11.4 billion shillings, which the government is mobilizing,” he added.

“Kenya convened a meeting with international partners last week as part of enhanced efforts to mobilise these additional resources to focus on mitigating the effects of drought and we can already report a tremendous positive response to this. The relevant government departments will be giving a brief on this in due course.”

Esipisu noted that livestock prices were falling as a result of the deficit in grazing available. “Goat prices in December were up to 25 per cent below their five-year averages so livestock is being affected in these communities wheich the drought is ravaging,” he said.

He warned that food prices across the country would increase further because of below average production in 2016. “Current prices are 10 to 25 per cent above their five-year averages and will probably rise further,” he explained.

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently declared the drought a national disaster and a formal Kenya Gazette notice will be published to this effect.