An exhibitor from Amiran Kenya sets his fresh produce during the Annual Naivasha Horticulture Trade Fair held in Naivasha, Nakuru County recently. Kenyan fruits and vegetables face ban in the EU market due to failure to meet set regulations. Photo: Antony Gitonga/Standard
An exhibitor from Amiran Kenya sets his fresh produce during the Annual Naivasha Horticulture Trade Fair held in Naivasha, Nakuru County recently. Kenyan fruits and vegetables face ban in the EU market due to failure to meet set regulations. Photo: Antony Gitonga/Standard

Persistent high prices of staple food continued to drive food insecurity in Kenya, an assessment report released on Friday shows.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWs Net), a donor-funded agency which monitors food insecurity, said the current election cycle has restricted market and humanitarian aid operations as the majority of actors have chosen to exercise caution.

“This has particularly affected food availability in remote, rural areas as market operations have slowed down and humanitarian assistance deliveries have been curtailed,” FEWs Net said.

An estimated 5.6 million people have been affected by the drought in Kenya, including 3.4 million who lack enough food, according to UN.

Of them, 2.6 million face severe food insecurity, including 500,000 experiencing “emergency” levels of food insecurity.

A total of 369,277 children in the arid and semi-arid counties of Kenya now require urgent treatment for acute malnutrition, and, in the worst-affected counties, like Turkana South, the acute malnutrition rate is as high as 37 percent, more than twice the emergency threshold of 15 percent.

The report said substantial offseason rains experienced from July through mid-September in some counties have significantly improved water and forage availability, which have improved livestock body conditions, but milk production remains negligible, except for camels.

“In other pastoral areas, food security continues to deteriorate with lower livestock productivity, restricting household income and milk availability,” the report said.

High malnutrition outcomes persist, and the three-month nationwide nurses’ strike is exacerbating limited health access to worsen the situation.

The maize subsidy program introduced by the government in June is expected to cease at the end of September, coinciding with the beginning of the long-rains harvest season from Kenya’s high-producing areas.

“This harvest, however, is projected to be 20-30 percent below average, which will result in a significant supply shortfall and likely keep staple food prices persistently above five-year averages across the country, further constraining household food access,” FEWs Net said.

The United Nations and its humanitarian partners in Kenya on Sept. 7 appealed for 106 million U.S. dollars to scale up their response to the most urgent needs resulting from the drought in northern Kenya. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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