Acute Drought To Hit Kenya Early 2017 – UN

Kenya’s ecosystems may deteriorate even in 2017, the United Nations said on Tuesday, using a new early warning system that projects the availability of forage for animals in the country’s arid livestock-dependent north. Serious drought is expected.

People and animals’ lives are at risk because they have not had a chance to recover from drought in 2014 as rains were also poor in 2015 and 2016, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.

“We really are concerned that the situation is going to deteriorate rapidly early into next year,” Piers Simpkin, a livestock expert with FAO in Kenya, told a news conference. “There is serious drought looming in early 2017.”

It adds that temperatures seem to be rising, water supplies may become scarce, soil fertility gets low and severe droughts may follow. Drought can hinder the fight against hunger and the burden weighs heavily on the country’s food security and sustainable development as well as the lives in the country.

Aside from the toll on human and crops, the effect will also push up the cost of doing business in the country’s agricultural sector.

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The predictive livestock early warning system, which is the brainchild of both Texas A and M University, shows how much forage that Kenya can provide up to May 2017, using computer modelling of water flows and vegetation growth.

And according to an expert working in the system, “The months of April and May will present a big challenge,” said FAO’s Joseph Matere.

There has been a drought in Kenya. During the drought, drinking water wasn’t available. There was no food. The animals had nothing to eat.

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The blistering heat spread across the Horn of Africa destroying livestock, ruining lives and decimating entire communities.

Kenya’s long rain season, from March to May, is very important for the survival of farmers and livestock herders. The 2016 long rains were poor, leaving 1.3 million Kenyans in need of food aid, based on the government’s statement, which has started distributing maize, beans and rice to hungry people in the worst-affected northern and coastal regions.

Next year’s long rains may also be of a low standard with a delayed start and below average rainfall, the UN says.

FAO has set aside a whopping sum of $400,000 to spend in Kenya on training, vaccination, animal feed and encouraging people to sell animals before they fall sick.