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El Nino rains leave Kenya's arid areas grappling with diseases


Kenya's arid and semi-arid areas are currently grappling with the effects of recent El Nino rains after one of the worst droughts in decades.

The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) said in a report released on Thursday that all the 23 regions classified as arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) in the East African nation are not experiencing drought.

The arid land of a national park in Kenya. /CFP
The arid land of a national park in Kenya. /CFP

The arid land of a national park in Kenya. /CFP

However, there has been an emergence of risks associated with the increased rainfall, including an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever (RVF), which affects livestock in areas where pastoralism is the economic mainstay.

The upsurge of livestock diseases such as RVF and foot-and-mouth disease has restricted livestock movement, "undermining full recovery from the drought and food security," the agency said, adding that other livestock diseases that the regions are grappling with are sheep and goat pox, listeriosis, and rabies.

Marsabit National Park in Kenya. /CFP
Marsabit National Park in Kenya. /CFP

Marsabit National Park in Kenya. /CFP

Kenya experienced El Nino rains between October and December 2023, affecting mainly arid and semi-arid areas, killing about 120 people, destroying property, and displacing thousands, according to Kenya's National El Nino Steering Committee.

The NDMA said it has strengthened disease surveillance, promoted routine supportive livestock health initiatives, including vaccination and control, and supported restocking programs aimed at herd redistribution.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Application Center (ICPAC), in its latest weather forecast, predicts heavy rains between March and May in Kenya and other countries in the Horn of Africa, meaning the arid areas may suffer again.

According to the World Bank, about 60 percent of Kenya's livestock is found in the ASALs, which cover about 70 percent of the country. The sector contributes about 12 percent to the gross domestic product.

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency
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