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Brace for ‘La Nina’ until December, warns agency

Kenyans should brace for a La Nina situation between October and December period, National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) has warned.

La Niña is a weather phenomenon that cools surface water over the central and eastern Pacific, inhibiting the formation of rain clouds and leading to below-average rainfall over equitorial east Africa.

The new announcement comes despite Kenya Meteorological Department last month gave a forecast of enhanced rainfall over much of the country during the October-December short rains.

Peter Ambenje, KMD director in September said most parts of the country will start experiencing good rains from October to November with long dry spells likely to be experienced in December. La Nina which cools water in the equatorial Pacific occurs at irregular intervals and is associated with widespread changes in weather patterns complementary to those of El Niño, but less extensive and damaging in their effects.

But the October early warning drought bulletin released yesterday by the NDMA highlighted three possible scenarios for the months ahead. The authority started that if the short rains start on time and are above normal in line with the forecast, then drought-affected areas will recover, but will need continued support for some weeks to facilitate this.

While if the short rains start late but then perform well, this will further aggravate the drought situation in many areas, which means more counties will be in need of response measures during October and part of November form the second scenario.

“In the third scenario, if short rains perform poorly due to La Niña conditions, the drought situation will become acute and reach emergency levels during the next dry season between January and March 2018.”

The authority noted that drought conditions remain grave in Garissa, Isiolo, Kajiado, Kilifi, Marsabit, Narok, Samburu, Tana River, and Wajir Counties. In the said nine counties, the bulletin stated residents are grappling with acute water stress, high livestock mortality and below normal milk production and livestock prices.

“The drought situation is worsening in Embu (Mbeere), Kitui, Makueni, Mandera, Meru (North), Nyeri (Kieni) and Tharaka Nithi Counties. The situation in Baringo, Kwale, Lamu, Taita Taveta and West Pokot Counties has stabilised and improved in Turkana and parts of Laikipia counties.

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