Kenya to Brace for Drought After Floods – UN Predicts


As Kenyans grapple with the aftermath of relentless rains causing havoc across the nation, experts are issuing warnings that the pendulum may swiftly swing towards a devastating drought before the year’s end.

Dr Stephen Jackson, the UN Resident Coordinator, has sounded the alarm over the looming threat of drought, stressing that the ongoing floods have left farmers counting significant losses from washed-away crops and inundated farmlands. Concerns are mounting that the country could face food shortages as key agricultural areas reel under flood crises.

In an interview on Citizen TV on Wednesday, Dr. Jackson pointed to the urgency of bolstering the country’s disaster preparedness. He urged the National Assembly to expedite the passage of the proposed National Disaster Risk Management Bill, stressing the need for comprehensive measures to tackle the increasing frequency of natural disasters.

“It’s critical that we get that right because we’re going to be doing this for a long time to come,” Dr. Jackson remarked during the interview.

Dr. Stephen Jackson, the UN Resident Coordinator, Kenya, during the alignment of the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2022-2026 with Kenya’s Development Goals, April 17.

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UNDP

He further warned of the likelihood of a swift transition from floods to drought, citing forecasts indicating a potential return to drought conditions by the year’s end.

He stated, “The bad news for Kenya and for Kenyans is that if we together and we will get through this flood emergency, we’re going to be back in a drought, the swing, the pendulum is going to go back the other way very quickly. Some of the forecasts are already showing we might be in drought again by the end of the year. So this whiplash, this pendulum between feast and famine, flood and drought is going to not only continue, it’s going to intensify.”

Dr. Jackson highlighted the escalating cycle of feast and famine, flood, and drought, stressing the imperative of coordinated efforts to mitigate future crises.

However, Dr. Jackson cautioned against absolute certainty in the predictions, noting that while long-range forecasts indicate significant risks, they do not guarantee impending drought.

“I wouldn’t want Kenyans to be despairing already and saying oh my goodness there’s a drought coming by the end of the year the UN says so. What I’ve seen is long-range forecasts, some of them that say that there’s a significant risk of that so it’s a point of alarm, it’s not yet a certainty,” he asserted.

“What is a certainty is given the climate crisis that there will be a drought along again this year or next year or the year after,” he stated.

Acknowledging improvements in coordination between national and county governments, Dr. Jackson called for further enhancement to effectively address the challenges posed by natural disasters.

The toll of the floods continues to mount, with 238 lives lost and nearly 300,000 people affected as of Tuesday evening. The floods have inflicted severe damage on agricultural regions, particularly in the Rift Valley, Nyanza, Coastal areas, and around Mount Kenya, imperilling food security.

Farmers face immense losses as vast swathes of farmland are submerged, infrastructure damaged, and crops destroyed. In the Mwea Irrigation Scheme, rice farms have vanished under floodwaters, leaving farmers grappling with significant losses.

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki during an assessment visit in Kijabe, Kiambu County on May 7, 2024

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Kithure Kindiki



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