February 10, 2017 / 12:59 PM / 8 months ago

Kenya declares drought a national disaster, seeks help

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya declared a national disaster on Friday, calling for aid to counter drought that is posing a major risk to people, livestock and wildlife.

A Kenyan soldier looks at a cow which is dying from hunger, a few hundred meters from the official boundary of the Kenya-Ethiopia border in northwestern Kenya October 13, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola/File Photo

The Kenya Red Cross has estimated around 2.7 million people are in need of food aid after low rainfall in October and November and the next rainy season not due before April.

President Uhuru Kenyatta called for “local and international partners to come in and support the government’s efforts to contain the situation,” a statement from his office said.

The U.N. World Food Programme said it was short of $22 million for the next six to nine months to provide support such as school meals for 428,000 children who often depend on them as their only substantial meal of the day.

The presidency did not set out how much the government needed for the drought, but said it had released 7.3 billion shillings ($70 million) and local authorities had provided another 2 billion. Out of Kenya’s 47 counties, 23 have been deemed to be facing disastrous drought.

“The government intends to enhance the interventions including doubling of food rations and cash transfers among other measures,” the presidency statement said.

Early this month, residents in drought-struck northern Kenya said at least 11 people were killed and a tourist lodge torched due to conflicts when armed cattle herders flooded onto farms and wildlife reserves.

($1 = 103.4500 Kenyan shillings)

Additional reporting by Edmund Blair; Editing by Clement Uwiringiyimana and Robin Pomeroy

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