KENYA: Tens of thousands facing acute food shortage

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tens of thousands of people are facing food scarcity in the areas of Baringo and East Pokot in Kenya's north Rift, a humanitarian official said.

"There is an acute food shortage and the situation has been rated as alarming," Anthony Mwangi, public relations manager with the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), said.

At least 64,000 people were affected in East Pokot and another 32,000 in Baringo.

Mwangi said the food scarcity was attributed to poor rainfall and drought, which had led to crop failure. High food prices had exacerbated the situation.

In addition, prolonged drought was contributing to environmental degradation, he said.

Absenteeism in schools had also been reported, with at least 5 percent of children missing school. "They are staying behind to support their parents," he said.

Livestock health has been affected due to a lack of pasture and water. The two areas have a large pastoralist population.

"The livestock are in poor condition and are fetching low prices in the markets," said Mwangi. Milk production had also fallen.

He said some of the affected population was feeding on wild fruits and rodents to cope with the food shortage.

The worst-affected areas include the localities of Sacho, Margat, Makutani, Tenges, Koloo, Tangul bei and Nginyang.

The KRCS has launched relief food aid distribution targeting at least 68,000 people in the affected areas. So far, the KRCS had distributed 1,246 tonnes of assorted food stuff, including 1,152 tonnes of cereal, Mwangi said.