The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) has appealed for Sh1 billion to help it reach out to 340,786 people facing hunger in 13 counties across the country.
The money would be used to distribute water, food and other essential commodities to Kenyans facing starvation.
Red Cross secretary general Abbas KRCS said the crisis has left 13 counties in an alarm stage while another 11 at an alert stage, adding that effects of drought are escalating.
He said the Red Cross is issuing a revised drought appeal to reach up to 340,786. Funds raised will be distributed to the worst affected families and communities through a cash transfer programme, to empower them financially to meet their basic needs.
Well-wishers can send their contributions through mobile phone on M-Pesa pay bill Number 10000 account name ‘drought’ or Airtel business name ‘Redcross’ and account name ‘Kenyans for Kenya’.
Contributions can also be sent through Equitel, account number 1770271506417, pay bill 10000 and account name Kenyans for Kenya, or Kenya Commercial Bank, Harambee Avenue account number 1107745942 and National Bank, account 01020077840098.
He said the worst-hit counties are Marsabit, Garissa, Mandela, Isiolo, Kwale, Turkana, West Pokot, Samburu, Tana River, Kilifi, Wajir and Lamu, some of which are expected to slide into the emergency phase of drought in coming weeks.
Those at alert stage are Baringo, Embu (Mbeere), Kajiado, Kitui, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Laikipia, Makueni, Narok, Nyeri (Kieni) and Taita Tateva counties.
Abbas said the assistance requested will focus on five key areas such as nutrition outreaches to malnourished children, pregnant women and lactating mothers in 10 counties.
It is also in form of direct cash transfers to most food insecure families an where markets are functional, targeting 17,500 families, food vouchers targeting 7,500 of the most food insecure families where cash is likely to be diverted.
There will also be rehabilitation of key communal watering points where increased water pumping is causing breakdowns, which is targeting 51 community water points as well as animal offtake and slaughter focusing on weak animals likely to die due to drought, making meat available to families and cushion farmers from massive losses.
He said KRCS has also distributed a total of 280 metric tons of assorted food to 15,954 people in Samburu, Lamu, Kwale and Kilifi counties.
“We have been working with the Red Cross Movement partners, national and county Governments, the corporate sector and local partners to mitigate the situation. However, more support is needed hence our decision to appeal to Kenyans for support,” Abbas said in a statement.
He attributed the current state of affairs to late onset and inadequate short rains between October and December, which has led to poor pasture and inadequate resources in pastoral areas and unseasonal migration in areas like Narok, Kwale, Taita Taveta and Tana River counties.
Similarly, livestock body conditions and milk productivity have further deteriorated in parts of Marsabit, Garissa, Isiolo, Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu, Taita Taveta and Tana River counties.
Abbas said KRCS has been transferring cash on a monthly basis to families in MArsabit, Kilifi and Tana River and so far, 4,200 families have received cash transfers.
“Cash transfers offer families with the flexibility and choice to purchase their preferred foodstuff from local traders and therefore support local markets and recovery of livelihood,” he stated.
Also being undertaken is a livestock destocking programme in pastoralist areas to cushion farmers from massive losses and so far, 882 goats and sheep and 651 heads of cattle have been purchased, inspected, slaughtered and distributed to vulnerable families in Tana River and Garissa counties.