The drought situation in Makueni County is normal and stable according to a report released by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA).
The report based on a survey done on the drought situation in the month of June, says no drought was recorded in all the six sub-counties with Kaiti, Kilome and Mbooni sub counties, classified as high potential areas exhibiting very good conditions.
The Early Warning report further states that there will be a bumper harvest of leguminous crops such as pigeon peas, cowpeas and green grams, which performed well across the county. However, the performance of cereals especially maize and beans was poor with most areas especially in the marginal areas reporting crop withering before maturity.
Although there were no rains under the period of review, the report says that pastures have regenerated adequately across all livelihood zones and as a result, livestock body condition has improved.
“The pastures are likely to last for two to three months when the next rainy season will begin,” reads the report.
However, the report indicates that the return distances to water sources for livestock and domestic use has increased to an average of 1.86km from 1.64 and 1.58 respectively from last month due to the declining water sources following the cessation of the rains.
“Water sources are currently adequate but have begun decreasing since the rains ceased. They are however expected to last for 2 to 3 months,” says the report.
Pricing of cereals and other food products have also remained stable and according to the report, most commodities are easily available in markets. A kilogram of maize is retailing at Sh35 while the same quantity of rice and beans is going for Sh84 and Sh87 respectively.
On health and nutrition, the percentage of children under-five years who are at risk of malnutrition stands at 6.98 percent an increase from last month’s 6.68 percent and out of the total 1046 children sampled, 37 children in marginal areas are at risk of malnutrition while only 4 children in high potential areas face malnutrition. However according to the report, the statistics present a normal trend at this time of the year.
Despite the normal and stable drought situation the report has recommended for a raft of measures to be undertaken as coping strategies among them promotion of water harvesting technologies and tree planting to increase water recharges and infiltration.
The report also recommends for food aid especially in marginal areas to help cushion residents against hunger. Already 100 bags of maize, 200 bags of rice, 100 cartons of cooking oil and 100 bags of beans have been received from the Ministry of Devolution for distribution to families hard hit by drought.
The report by NDMA on a stable and normal drought condition is definitely good news to the residents of Makueni, a county that is characterized by perennial droughts and famines. With only three months before the October short rains begin, one can only hope that the situation will not worsen beyond the intervention measures put in place.