Drought Leaves 1 Million People in Kenya Needing Food Aid

(Bloomberg) -- More than a million people in a dozen Kenyan counties are in urgent need of food assistance after below-average rainfall curbed farm output, according to the East African nation’s drought-management agency.

Insufficient rains caused the number of people facing food insecurity to increase from 655,800 in August 2018, the National Drought Management Authority said in a statement on its website. The government has provided 1.35 billion shillings ($13.4 million) of the 1.72 billion shillings that’s required to partly provide food and water for people and livestock through April in 12 of Kenya’s 47 counties, according to the agency.

“We have sufficient food stocks in the country and the prices are modest,” Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto said Monday in the capital, Nairobi. The recurring situation isn’t as bad as last year, he told reporters.

A drought in 2017 contributed to a slowdown in Kenyan growth to the weakest pace since 2011. The dry spell continued for three seasons, cutting production of corn, a staple food, and leading to shortages of other foods including milk.

There will be “slightly above-average rainfall” over most of the country from March through May, the Kenya Meteorological Department said Monday. The late start of the long-rains season, partly caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai that’s hit parts of southern Africa, is “likely to impact negatively on the agricultural sector leading to food insecurity,” it said.

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