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Kenya declares drought a national disaster

By on February 10, 2017

Kenya’s president has declared the drought, which has affected as much as half the country, a national disaster.

Uhuru Kenyatta appealed for international aid and said the government would increase food handouts to the most needy communities.

The Kenya Red Cross has estimated around 2.7 million people are in need of food aid after low rainfall in October and November and the next rainy season not due before April.

Other countries in the region have also been hit by the drought, blamed on last year’s El Nino weather phenomenon.

The presidency did not set out how much the government needed for the drought, but said it had released 7.3 billion shillings ($70 million) and local authorities had provided another 2 billion. Out of Kenya’s 47 counties, 23 have been deemed to be facing disastrous drought.

“The government intends to enhance the interventions including doubling of food rations and cash transfers among other measures,” the presidency statement said.

The U.N. World Food Programme said it was short of $22 million for the next six to nine months to provide support such as school meals for 428,000 children who often depend on them as their only substantial meal of the day.

During the last drought on this scale in 2011, famine killed about 250,000 Somalis.

In a statement, Mr Kenyatta said the government had allocated $105m (£84m) to tackle the drought which has affected people, livestock and wildlife in 23 of Kenya’s 47 counties.

“Support from our partners would complement government’s efforts in mitigating the effects of drought,” he said.

Early this month, residents in drought-struck northern Kenya said at least 11 people were killed and a tourist lodge torched due to conflicts when armed cattle herders flooded onto farms and wildlife reserves.

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