Immediate, medium and long-term priority interventions, including controlling food prices, providing food aid and creating employment, are required to stop more Kenyans going hungry, an inter-agency assessment of the 2008/2009 short rains recommends.
The interventions in livestock, agriculture, fisheries, water, education, health and nutrition sectors would address Kenya's food insecurity, which is becoming "increasingly entrenched", states the report compiled by the Kenya Food Security Steering Group, with several Kenyan ministries, UN agencies and NGOs.
Poor October-December 2008 short rains precipitated the food security crisis, with the south-eastern, coastal and central lowlands receiving exceptionally poor rains, according to the assessment.
Besides crop failure, the poor rains caused severe water shortages, mostly in the north-eastern pastoral districts; aggravating resource conflicts in the region.
The short rains assessment, undertaken by nine field teams, covered 37 traditionally drought-prone pastoral, agro-pastoral, marginal agricultural districts, including five agriculturally high potential districts affected by post-election violence in early 2008.
For agriculture, the report recommends providing drought-tolerant seeds and farm inputs to farmers in areas affected by months of post-election violence in early 2008.
For the water sector, the assessment recommends water-trucking; fuel subsidies, borehole rehabilitation; desilting water sources; rain harvesting; rehabilitation of shallow wells and the rehabilitation of irrigation canals.
In the food sector, the report says at least 123,000 metric tonnes of food commodities will be required from April to September and recommends the prioritising of food and association costs for 2.5 million drought-affected people; 850,000 school children and 150,000 internally displaced persons; and a supplementary feeding programme.
On 18 March, the UN World Food Programme said it was scaling up food aid in the country to feed 3.5 million people hit by drought and high food prices.
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